Deasy Tuwo, 44, is thought to have died on Friday while attempting to feed the animal at the CV Yosiki Laboratory in the village of Ranowangko on Indonesia’s North Sulawesi Island.
“We were afraid to touch it and reported the incident at the police station.”
Another laboratory worker, Nasran, who like many Indonesians goes by a single name, described Tuwo as a “quiet” and “meticulous” person.
He expressed confusion as to how the experienced scientist, who he had often allowed his son to accompany as she fed the crocodiles, had fallen victim to such an accident.
Local media reported the crocodile, which was named Merry, measured more than five metres (16 feet 5 inches) from head to tail and had been a pet of the laboratory’s Japanese owner.
Raswin Sirait, police chief in the nearby city of Tomohon, said the animal had been anaesthetised before being removed from the enclosure.
He added authorities were trying to locate the owner of the crocodile and determine whether he had a licence to keep the giant reptile as a pet.
“We are still looking for the owner of the crocodile,” he told reporters.
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