Pui Pui moves to HK$3 million Wetlands Park home

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 August, 2006, 12:00am

Hong Kong's celebrity crocodile, Pui Pui, moved into her new HK$3 million home yesterday at Wetlands Park, replete with infrared heaters, an indoor heated pool and weighing scales.

But officials have urged the public not to rush to visit Pui Pui because she needs time to settle in. Voted 2003 Personality of the Year, the reptile has been thriving under the care of specialists at the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Tai Po. She has put on 5.5kg and grown 25cm since her arrival at the farm. She now weighs 19.5kg and is 1.75 metres long.

Officials from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department yesterday tied up and blind-folded Pui Pui to protect her during the move to her permanent home in Tin Shui Wai.

For the moment, the celebrity will not be receiving guests. Visitors can only view the reptile through closed-circuit television until she has become used to her new enclosure, Assistant Director for Conservation Lay Chik-chuen said. She will be released into the outdoor enclosure once she has adapted, Mr Lay added.

The saltwater croc's new home has an indoor enclosure of about 14 square metres with its pool temperature set at more than 20 degrees Celsius. The outdoor enclosure is 72 square metres, 70 per cent of which is the pool area.

There are also infrared heaters to keep the temperature at 25 degrees Celsius in the winter. A weighing scale placed under a rock below the heaters will let staff weigh Pui Pui without disturbing her. Heated pads will give her a warm flat area for basking in the winter.

The six-year-old croc shot to stardom when she was spotted in Yuen Long's Shan Pui River in November 2003. She evaded attempts by Australian crocodile hunter John Lever and mainland experts to capture her. She was caught seven months later when she swam into a trap laid by department staff. Pui Pui (precious one) was given her name after a contest attracted 1,600 entries, the department said.

The young crocodile will grow to three metres and her enclosure was designed to cope with her adult size, Mr Lay said.