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Lolong dies: World's Largest Crocodile is Dead, Called An 'Ambassador' For Croc Conservation by Philippines Government Official [VIDEO]

By Jesse Lent | February 11, 2013 02:41 PM EST

Sunday night, authorities in the Davao Crocodile Park on the Philippine island of Mindanao confirmed that Lolong--the world's largest living crocodile in captivity, measuring over 20-feet-long--had died.

The news of the Guinness Record-setting crocodile's death was met with a heartfelt government tribute light years away from the typical response when a reptile dies.

The Philippines's Environment Secretary Ramon Paje called Lolong's death a significant loss for the country's crocodile conservation program. He called Lolong an "ambassador" in educating people about the benefits of crocodiles in the wild.

He also told CNN affiliate ABS-CBN news that Lolong's death during National Wetlands Month in the Philippines was "unfortunate," because of the crocodile's ability to raise awareness of wildlife issues.

Although the cause of Lolong's death is still not known, a post-mortem examination on Lolong is to be conducted on Monday.

According to Bunawan, Agusan del Sur Mayor Edwin Elorde, who first announced the crocodile's death, the reptile was "not less than 50 years old."

Elorde, who said the crocodile had adjusted to his life in captivity as a tourist attraction, pointed out that park officials had noted Lolong's right stomach was bloated near the time of the crocodile's death.

Monday's post-mortem will be conducted carefully in order to protect the creature's remains, according to Paje. The government plans to stuff the revered reptile.

"The team will help ensure that the necropsy would be carried out in a manner that would make it possible to contribute Lolong's remains to taxidermy," Paje said.

Wildlife experts first captured Lolong in September 2011 after a young girl was reportedly killed in the Agusan Marsh on Mindanao in 2009. The disappearance of a fisherman in nearby Bunawan was also initially blamed on the giant croc.

However authorities were unable to prove that Lolong had murdered anyone, so the government granted him a stay of execution in captivity.

Mayor Elorde says he asked his country's Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau to help preserve the giant croc, "so we can still see him."

Tagged :  world news

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