When Guinness World Records first learned of the existence of Lolong, a massive saltwater crocodile in the Agusan del Sur Province of Mindanao, Philippines, the current longest crocodile in captivity was Cassius, a 5.48-metre giant being cared for at Marineland Melanesia on Green Island, off the coast of Cairns in Queensland, Australia. Lolong had just been caught and was rumoured to be over six metres long.
Experts recommended that in order for a crocodile to be accepted as living healthily in captivity, there should be a three to six month bedding in period to ensure the creature reacts well to its new surroundings. Lolong remained in good health for this period, and was measured at 6.17 metres and recognised as the new largest crocodile in captivity in late 2011 - as documented by National Geographic Wild's program Monster Croc Hunt.
So it was with great sadness that staff at Guinness World Records received news of Lolong's death, at an estimated age of 50, on February 10, 2013.
Craig Meade, a Producer from NHNZ who led a documentary team that helped celebrate the life of Lolong, and who was instrumental in having the world record recognised, said he was personally saddened by the news.
"The loss of Lolong is a loss for all of us," he told Guinness World Records. "Lolong was a superb example of nature at its finest and most amazing. It was an awe-inspiring animal. I'm sure Bunawan Village is in deep mourning today for their favourite local celebrity. Their relationship with Lolong had led to a deeper and richer appreciation of the natural world around them. The world may have lost Lolong, but many more saltwater crocodiles will now survive thanks to this single great animal's influence."
Chris Sheedy, the Australian representative of Guinness World Records, has spent time in the enclosure with Cassius on Green Island and communicated closely with the NHNZ team as they organised the measurement of Lolong in the Philippines. He said that although the record now reverts back to Cassius, it is not something the Green Island crew is celebrating.
"Having met and spent time with the people that look after these wonderful creatures, I have seen how passionate they are about the care of the crocodiles," Sheedy said. "They feel a close bond and in fact they often put the comfort of the crocodile before their own. I'd personally like to thank the team at NHNZ, and the staff at the Bunawan Eco-Park and Research Centre, for bringing this amazing story to our attention."