A mystery illness has claimed the life of “Macca” the half-tonne saltwater crocodile and leading attraction at Snakes Downunder Reptile Park and Zoo near Childers.
Park owner Ian Jenkins advised of Macca's passing on social media. The much-loved reptile will undergo an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Macca, who was in his late 30s, had been with the park since its inception and had developed a remarkable association with Ian and more recently with assistant Julieanne Nugent.
The act which thrilled the thousands who have visited the park over the years involved Macca lurching, seemingly at the speed of light, from the depths of his pond and “attacking” a yellow plastic dummy.
The display showed the awesome speed of the saltwater crocodile and the manner in which it harnessed its prey and returned to the pond in a series of thrashing death rolls.
The show was the result of hours of interaction between Ian and the huge croc.
Ian will have a lasting memento of his years with “Macca” with the croc taking a thumb during a Sunday afternoon public show in January 2015.
Mr Jenkins invariably blamed himself for any mishap in relation to the park animals.
Ian admits at that time he was getting a little “too cute” with Macca and was endeavouring to feather the croc on the nose with his hat. “He was very quick on that occasion,” Mr Jenkins said at the time.
Bitten several times by venomous snakes in addition to the tangle with Macca, Mr Jenkins was always adamant that it was invariably a case of human failure rather than aggression from the animals.
Over the past few years since the arrival of Macca's mate Alice, the duo has produced numerous clutches of eggs which were provided to a North Queensland crocodile farm.
The offspring of Macca and Alice will continue Macca’s contribution to the fearsome and legendary status of saltwater crocodiles.
Yesterday Mr Jenkins was busy making arrangements for the removal of Macca and was understandably too distressed to make any public comment.
Staff from the park are all mourning the loss of a genuine character.
Mr Jenkins’ Facebook advice on the passing of Macca concluded with the words “RIP Big Fella”.
- Earlier news: Cosy life for Snakes Downunder koalas