A 100-year-old, one-tonne crocodile named King Buka has died in captivity, leaving his partner Bonnie devastated.
The 5.3-metre crocodile was living on a cane farm in North Queensland before he was relocated to Koorana Crocodile Farm near Rockhampton in 1984.
King Buka was moved to a wildlife sanctuary after the farm closed down during COVID-19 but his health rapidly deteriorated over the past four months.
John Lever from Koorana Crocodile Farm said King Buka, who was named after a region in Papua New Guinea, lived an active lifestyle on the farm.
He fathered many crocodiles and continued to do so up until 2019, which Mr Lever said was impressive for a crocodile at his age.
‘Last year his girl laid 56 eggs and they were all fertile, so he was still an active old bloke,’ Mr Lever told ABC.
Mr Lever noticed something was wrong with King Buka when he stopped eating after he was transported to the sanctuary.
‘He was looking quite lethargic, he didn’t move a great deal,’ Mr Lever said.
‘We used to go in and hand feed him, as in touch him on the nose with a stick and he’d open his mouth. We’d pop the food in his mouth so he didn’t have to come and get it.’
Mr Lever posted the news of King Buka’s death on the Koorana Crocodile Farm Facebook page and said he was a gentle giant.
‘He was an icon croc, he had a great personality,’ Mr Lever said on Facebook.
‘He was the sort of croc you could walk in the pen with, he wasn’t looking at people as food items, rather we were just feeders, that’s all.’
He said King Buka was a ‘remarkable family member’ who entertained people since he arrived at the farm in 1984.
‘Generations of Levers have grown up knowing him, and generations of the general public have also grown knowing him and his beautiful nature.’
Mr Lever also thanked King Buka for ‘all the years he took such good care of Bonnie.’
To honour his life, King Buka’s head and skin will be removed and treated before they are displayed on the ceiling of the farm’s restaurant