KIEV, Ukraine – The crocodile in “Peter Pan” happily went “tick-tock” after swallowing an alarm clock but a crocodile in Ukraine has been a little less fortunate.
Gena, a 14-year-old crocodile at an aquarium in the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk, has been refusing food and acting listless after eating a cell phone dropped by a woman as she tried to photograph him.
Aquarium workers initially didn’t believe Rimma Golovko, a new mother in her 20s, when she complained that the crocodile had swallowed her phone.
“But then the phone started ringing and the sound was coming from inside our Gena’s stomach and we understood she wasn’t lying,” said Alexandra, an employee who declined to give her last name as she wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
Golovko admits the accident was her fault. She stretched out her arm to snap a photo of Gena opening his mouth and dropped her Nokia phone into the water.
“This should have been a very dramatic shot, but things didn’t work out,” she said.
Golovko is resigned to losing her phone, but still wants its SIM card back since that has her precious photos and contacts.
The mishap has caused bigger problems for the crocodile, which has not eaten or had a bowel movement in four weeks and appears depressed and in pain.
“The animal is not feeling well,” said Alexandra. “His behavior has changed, he moves very little and swims much less than he used to.”
Doctors tried to whet the crocodile’s appetite this week by feeding him live quail rather than the pork or beef he usually gets once a week. The quail were injected with vitamins and a laxative, but while Gena smothered one bird, he didn’t eat it. He also won’t play with three fellow African crocodiles, despite being the leader in the group. Crocodiles can live up to 100 years.
“He is the biggest and the oldest, perhaps he went for the phone to protect his group,” Alexandra said.