Animal Diaries Archive
17 September 2004Graham is the most notorious croc at Australia Zoo.
He was caught at Townsville in north Queensland by Steve Irwin in 1988. He was hanging around the boat ramp because the fishermen were feeding him - not intentionally, but they were leaving fishing frames after cleaning their catch as well as left-over crab bait – great food for a young croc! For this reason Graham had made the boat ramp his home. Now when fisherman launch their boats at the boat ramp they need to enter the water, sometimes up to their waist, and seeing as how male crocs grow to more than 5m long and weigh one tonne, Graham had to go. Steve was able to catch Graham by hand, but Graham never forgot or forgave Steve for catching him out in the wild. At the time of his capture he was six foot long, but as soon as he reached the Zoo he began to grow.
Graham outgrew his enclosure mates in a short while and started to become a bit of a bully. Steve decided to catch Graham and put him in another enclosure. Steve entered the enclosure with a top jaw rope to lasso Graham and a chicken to entice him out. Graham came out alright, so hard and fast that he went past the chicken and grabbed Steve by the hand. Graham pulled Steve into the pond in half a second. Luckily 95kgs of Steve landed straight on Graham's head, and when that happens you would normally open up your mouth and let out a bad word or two. Graham did just that, and Steve got away.
Steve had to wait a couple of weeks for his hand to heal before he could capture Graham and move him to a new pond. Little did Graham know he was in for an extra surprise! Steve gave Graham his favourite crocodile Bindi as a girlfriend. It was a match made in heaven.
One night when the Zoo was hit by a huge storm, 700mm of rain fell in only a few hours. Graham's pond was underwater and full of debris, and this was when we discovered just how protective Graham had become! Steve and Wes had to enter Graham's enclosure to clean the fences so they would not wash away. Graham spotted Steve and Wes and slipped from view. It only took him a couple of seconds to swim the length of his pond (80 metres) and this is when he grabbed Wes by the leg and bottom. Luckily Steve jumped on Graham. Wes tore himself free and made sure Steve was safe before he jumped out. Graham was happily chewing on a pick handle that Steve had given him as a replacement for Wes. Graham was happy; he had protected Bindi from Steve and Wes and had chased them away. Wes had a very sore leg and backside for a couple of weeks. A few weeks later Wes was back feeding Graham again and made sure to give Bindi a wide berth so as not to upset Graham.
Wes and Steve do not blame Graham for biting them. Anybody who works with animals will tell you if they get bitten, scratched or clawed it was them who made the mistake, not the animal.
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The saltwater crocodile, also known as the estuarine or Indo-Pacific crocodile, is the largest of all living reptiles. This apex predator is formidable, opportu ...more
On display in the Crocoseum