Monument to crocodile Godzilla opened in Mariupol

15:01, 14 April 2008
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The reptile, famous for its successful break for freedom, is local celebrity

A monument to crocodile Godzilla was opened in Mariupol city of the Donetsk Oblast.

According to an UNIAN correspondent, the monument was opened in front of a local café, on the initiative of one of café owners.

As UNIAN reported earlier, the 1.5-metre-long Nile crocodile made a successful break for freedom in May of 2007 from a traveling circus visiting the port city Mariupol, by digging his way out of a fenced enclosure and waddling to the sea.

The crocodile was sighted repeatedly by beach-goers in the following months, and became a minor media celebrity in the region. Initially fearsomely-named "Godzilla" by tabloid reporters, the animal`s popular name had changed to the affectionate "Godzi" by July.

Rather than attacking human swimmers, the crocodile found a plentiful diet of perch and sprat, according to news reports.

Throughout the summer the crocodile appeared to have taken to his new environment, sunning himself daily, and avoiding nets and even traps baited with live mice.

After evading recapture for months, the crocodile was roped and taken prisoner on November 28, near a water treatment outlet for the Mariupol Steel Factory.

Water temperatures had fallen to the teens and the cold-blooded crocodile was near-somnambulant when taken into custody, and did not resist capture, Korrespondent reported.

Ukrainian Emergency Ministry officials have made much of the crocodile`s recapture, in part to counter current public criticism of the Ministry`s competence for, among other recent incidents, a chemical spill in Lviv province, a deadly natural gas explosion in a Dnipopretrovsk apartment building, and a massive oil spill in the Sea of Azov.

Emergency workers attempted to assist the crocodile by allowing it to wallow in a crew bathtub in warm water, and by offering it boiled eggs and canned meat to eat.

The crocodile reportedly refused food for five days, and then died of unknown causes.

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