Cuban crocodile found dead at zoo A male Cuban crocodile named Jefe in the Reptile Discovery Center at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Cuban crocodiles are green and olive black with yellow speckles and darker coloration toward the top of their bodies. Their bellies are pale, and their tails have black blotches or bands. (Skip Brown/Skip Brown, Smithsonian's Nation)
WASHINGTON — A rare Cuban crocodile was found dead in its enclosure at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute after apparently attacking an electrical outlet.
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The zoo announced the 10-year-old animal’s death in a news release and said Reptile Discovery Center staff found the crocodile in its enclosure on the morning of Dec. 17. Officials said in the news release that “Staff deduced the crocodile was attracted to a replacement electrical outlet and attacked the electric infrastructure in the habitat. … Known for their aggressive behavior, the crocodile pulled the electric equipment off the wall and bit various pieces.”
The outlet was approximately 4.5 feet off the ground and had been inspected on Dec. 16 before the zoo closed for the day. Zoo officials said in the news release that during the last inspection, “No areas of concern were observed and the electrical circuit was intact.” Officials noted the animal had been living in the habitat for several years without issue.
The zoo said that it was installing redundant electrical breakers throughout the building to prevent any future incidents. There are no other animals in the enclosure where the Cuban crocodile lived.
Cuban crocodiles are listed as “critically endangered” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which estimates only 2,400 of the animals exist in the wild. Cuban crocodiles are native to the Zapata Swamp in western Cuba.
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