Monday, 24 January 2011

Croc swallows phone and starts ringing

January 24, 2011 - 10:36AM

Workers at a Ukrainian aquarium did not believe it when a visitor said a crocodile swallowed her phone. Then the reptile started ringing.

The accident in the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk sounds a bit like Peter Pan, in which a crocodile happily went "tick-tock" after gulping down an alarm clock.

But Gena, the 14-year-old croc who swallowed the phone, has hardly been living a fairy tale: he hasn't eaten or had a bowel movement in four weeks and appears depressed and in pain.

Gena noshed on the Nokia phone after Rimma Golovko dropped it in the water. She had stretched out her arm, trying to snap a photo of Gena opening his mouth when the phone slipped.

"This should have been a very dramatic shot, but things didn't work out," she said.

Employees were sceptical when Ms Golovko, a mother in her 20s, told them what happened.

"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 an employee who declined to give her name.

Since then, Gena has been refusing food and has been listless. He also won't play with three fellow African crocodiles, despite being the leader of the group.

"His behaviour has changed," the employee said. "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 did not eat it.

Dnipropetrovsk chief veterinarian Oleksandr Shushlenko said the crocodile would be taken for an X-ray this week if he continued to refuse food. Surgically removing the phone would be a last resort, he said, since incisions and stitches usually take at least three weeks to heal in reptiles and the procedure is dangerous for the animal and the vets.

"Everything will depend on where the foreign body is located," Dr Shushlenko said. "We don't have much experience working with such large animals."

The crocodile with the ticking stomach in Peter Pan was on the hunt for Captain Hook after getting a taste for the pirate's flesh by eating one of his hands. But luckily for Hook, he could always hear the crocodile coming.

Ms Golovko has about as much hope of retrieving her phone as Hook did of retrieving his hand. But she does want to get back the phone's SIM card, which holds her precious photos and contacts.

See video at: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/mobiles/croc-swallows-phone-and-starts-ringing-20110124-1a1lc.html

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