Hong Kong's celebrity crocodile, Pui Pui, may get some company after another of the species was found abandoned in a Tai Po village yesterday.
The reptile is about 1.2 metres long and weighs about 5kg. It has no noticeable wounds and was active when found at 3am in an aquarium left at a refuse-collection station in Tong Sheung Tsuen, Tai Po. It is believed to be an unwanted pet.
A spokeswoman for the Agricultural, Fisheries and Conservation Department, whose officers collected the animal, said it was in normal health and under observation at the department's New Territories North Animal Management Centre in Sheung Shui. It has not yet been decided how to deal with it.
She said crocodiles were endangered species and could not be sold in pet shops in Hong Kong. Illegal possession and importing of the species may result in a maximum penalty of HK$500,000 and one year in jail.
Ocean Park's senior curator of aquariums, David Lai Yiu-nam, said he believed the crocodile to be three to five years old and a member of the species known as spectacled caiman, which could live for up to 20 years and reach three metres in length.
He said it may make a suitable companion for Pui Pui, the saltwater crocodile who made world headlines in June 2004 and is now in the Hong Kong Wetland Park.
"If they are the same species, generally it is not good for them to live together as they might fight for dominance … but it also depends on their characters as well," Lai said.
Hui Wai-lam, 60, a farmer in Tong Sheung Tsuen, said he believed the reptile had been raised by one of his neighbours. "I am not scared or surprised … people here keep strange animals, such as lizards and snakes," Hui said.
Pui Pui was first seen in the Shan Pui River in Yuen Long in November 2003. It was captured by the department after eluding crocodile experts from Australia and the mainland for months.