BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): A crocodile that escaped from its circus pen in Nakhon Sawan was captured late Tuesday (Feb 21) night after five days on the loose.
The nearly three-metre-long reptile dashed into the Ping River in the province’s Banphot Phisai district while its owner – Boonchuay Klinphai – was busy entertaining an audience with an elephant show, Boonchuay said.
The crocodile was in a temporary pen inside a temple before it escaped, he said.
He had just bought three crocodiles in neighbouring Chainat province before stopping at the temple to stage an elephant show, he explained.
Boonchuay was planning to register his crocodiles and turn them into circus performers when he returned to his home in Chaiyaphum province, he said.
Rescue officials from the Luang Poo Pimpha Foundation captured the crocodile at about 10pm on Tuesday by harpooning its tail. The harpoon was tied to an empty oil drum by a short rope.
The five-litre oil drum prevented the crocodile from diving, officials said. The crocodile thrashed, twisted, rolled over, and struggled to break free before it became exhausted and was captured, they said.
The crocodile was sent to the Freshwater Fishery Research and Development Centre near Buen Boraphet Lake in Nakhon Sawan’s Muang district for treatment of its harpoon injury.
It was captured about 100 metres from the holding pen it escaped from.
The crocodile seemed afraid of people after being hunted for five days, members of the search team said. It remained submerged during the day but came out of hiding at night, they said.
Village residents and community leaders who watched the crocodile being captured said they were happy it had been caught so they could resume farming on the river’s banks and fishing in the river.
The fear of crocodiles runs deep in Thailand. A literary book used in primary school recounts a legend that imbues crocodiles with magic, allowing them to transform into humans.
According to the legend, a crocodile kidnaps the daughter of a rich family and detains her as his minor wife in a cave before a hunter kills it and releases her.
Village residents become alarmed when crocodiles escape from pens, and seek help from officials to capture them.
Wild crocodiles are often captured and removed from their habitat even though there are no recent reports of people being harmed by crocodiles in Thailand.