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Philippine Town Mourns the Death of "Lolong" the World's Largest Killer Captive Crocdile

Update Date: Feb 11, 2013 01:04 PM EST

The mayor of Bunawan in the Philippines says that the remote southern Philippine town plans to hold funeral rites for the world's largest saltwater crocodile in captivity, despite the animal being blamed for the deaths of several villages.

The mayor said Monday that the people of Bunawan plan on preserving Lolong, the 1-ton crocodile, in a museum to keep tourists coming and to prevent their town from slipping back into obscurity.

Lolong had earned the Guinness World Record title as the word's largest crocodile in captivity last year, measuring at 6.17 meters (20 feet 3 inches).  He reportedly died Sunday night after he was found floating on his back with a bloated stomach in an ecotourism park that was just beginning to attract tourists, income and development because of the giant reptile, Mayor Edwin Cox Elorde said, according to the Associated Press.

"I'm really depressed," Elorde told the Associated Press. "I've come to love that crocodile. It had brought fame to our town and the Philippines."

"The whole town, in fact the whole province, is mourning," Elorde added. "My phones kept ringing because people wanted to say how affected they are."

The mayor said that animal experts are planning on performing an autopsy on Monday to determine how to Lolong died.

The giant crocodile, who is believed to be more than 50 years old, fell ill three weeks ago after swallowing a nylon cord, which left him with nonstop diarrhea, according to The Philippine Star.

Even though Lolong had been blamed for the deaths of several people in the town of 37,000, the villagers grew to love the animal and celebrate the big crocodile as a symbol of pride and rich biodiversity.

Elorde said that because of Lolong, tourists from all over the world flocked to the town to see the giant crocodile.

"Big money came in, and villagers also had several livelihoods in the area," Arman Gomez, a government official, told the Manila Bulletin.

The mayor told Associated Press that various religious groups have offered prayers Monday and spiritual leaders also planned to perform a tribal funeral rite, which would involving sacrificing chickens and pigs to thank forest spirits for the fame and other blessings Lolong brought to the village.

Elorde, who held Lolong in his arms before he died, said that he wants to see the body of the giant crocodile preserved for tourists and future generations to see.

"I'd like them to see the crocodile that broke a world record and put our town on the map," Elorde told the Associated Press.

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