A 5.3-metre, one tonne, near-century old crocodile has died in captivity in Queensland. Buka was the second-biggest crocodile in captivity in Australia, according to Koorana Crocodile Farm, near Rockhampton, where he lived for more than a third of his life after being removed from the wild in 1984.
His handlers have revealed that Buka’s partner, Bonnie, is in mourning following his death.
“Our king Buka sadly passed away last night,” the crocodile farm posted on Facebook on Monday. “He had the most gentle temperament we had ever seen in a wild crocodile. He was a remarkable family member … [and] we are forever thankful for all the years he attracted people to our destination and all the years he took such good care of his partner Bonnie who is now in mourning.”
Estimates put Buka’s age at almost 100 years—and he was virile right up until the end, fathering dozens of crocodiles with Bonnie until as recently as last year.
"Last year his girl laid 56 eggs and they were all fertile,” John Lever from Koorana Crocodile Farm told the ABC. “So he was still an active old bloke.”
Buka's head and skin will be removed, treated and displayed on the farm's restaurant ceiling, in honour of his life.
The world’s oldest living crocodile in captivity is Henry the Nile Crocodile, who earned a reputation as a man eater in Botswana before being captured by an elephant hunter named Sir Henry in 1903. He now resides at Crocworld Conservation Centre in South Africa, and is thought to be at least 117 years old.