Cairo: Saudi authorities have ordered the confiscation of all wild animals from the only zoo in the eastern governorate of Al Qatif after a crocodile had recently been found roaming a motorway there, according to a media report.
However, the zoo owner has denied any link to the reptile. “This crocodile does not belong to the zoo,” Nasser Al Nemr was quoted by Saudi news portal Sabq as saying.
He added that the reptile had been brought in by a vehicle to a farm located next to the zoo and dumped there.
“After it (the crocodile) was spotted and caught in one of Al Qatif streets, we allowed it into the zoo as a temporary solution and to end panic,” Al Nemr said.
“After 28 years, which is the age of the zoo, a decision was made to confiscate the animals although we have made no mistake,” he added.
The crocodile was seen in a viral video attempting to cross a motorway amid cars.
As the crocodile made its way to the other side of the road, some motorists were careful not to hit it.
Teams from the National Centre for Wildlife (NCW) later brought the three-metre-long reptile under control and transferred it to an affiliated centre for rehabilitation before taking it back to its habitat.
Al Qatif authorities combed the area to ensure there were no other animals on the loose and said it closed the zoo as a precautionary measure.
The environment system in Saudi Arabia bans dealing in endangered animals including keeping and displaying them.
Violations are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of SR30 million. In recent months, incidents involving wild animals have been reported in the kingdom.
In May, the Saudi environmental police said they had restrained a lion found on the loose in the capital Riyadh.
The Special Forces for Environmental Security (SFES) said the beast, spotted in a Riyadh district, had been brought under control and handed over to a specialist agency.