Kojek the crocodile is one of the newest additions to Taman Safari conservation park in Bogor, which is one of the most popular parks in Indonesia. But the tale of how he got there is quite heartbreaking.
As reported in Liputan 6, 21 years ago, Irwan, a Bogor resident, was in Cianjur, West Java when he saved a baby crocodile from being abused and killed by some kids. After paying the kids IDR20,000 (which is worth about US$1.50 by today’s exchange rate, but worth much more back then), Irwan took the crocodile — then measuring only 10cm — with him and named him Kojek.
Over the years, Irwan said that Kojek, a tame animal despite its wild disposition, became part of his family. Neighbors and friends regarded Kojek as a domesticated animal — like a cat — and that he never hurt anyone (though ironically Irwan said that Kojek had killed some cats).
Kojek was given the nickname “fat crocodile” by locals (understandable — just look at that neck waddle), measuring 2.75m in length and weighing 200 kg. Irwan said he fed the croc 2 kg of fish each day. The croc was also bathed and brushed with dish soap about once a week.
But Kojek’s pampered existence of domestic bliss came to an end this year when news of the pet crocodile’s existence reached officials from the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) in West Java. On Feb. 4, BKSDA officers came to remove Kojek from Irwan and his family’s home as the crocodile is classified as protected animal under Indonesian law and cannot be kept as a pet.
The report from national TV network NET below shows the struggle the officers faced trying to get Kojek to leave Irwan’s house, the beast seemingly unwilling to leave his home of 21 years. There were also tears during the operation, including those of Irwan’s mother, who cried when she said that she regarded Kojek as her own grandson.
“I’m sad. But I accept the outcome as long as Kojek is cared for there. Don’t mix him with other crocodiles, because he’s tamed,” Irwan said, as quoted by Liputan 6.
In Taman Safari, Kojek is currently occupying in his own enclosure while veterinarians put the croc on a strict diet after diagnosing him with obesity. The park hopes that the Kojek can eventually acclimatize to its new surroundings, which more closely resembles its natural habitat than Irwan’s house, and get to know other crocodiles.
On Monday, Taman Safari posted a photo on their Instagram account showing Irwan visiting Kojek in his enclosure and praising him for letting Kojek be taken away so that the crocodile could have a chance at a better life.
Hi explorer, kerinduan Kojek sang Buaya Muara terobati setelah Bapak Muhamad Irwan datang mengujunginya ke Taman Safari Indonesia hari ini Minggu 11 Februari 2018. Bapak Muhamad Irwan adalah pemilik dan perawat Buaya Kojek selama 21 Tahun lamanya yg melalui BKSDA wilayah 1 Jawa Barat telah menitipkan ke Taman Safari Indonesia sebagai Lembaga Konservasi yang akan merawat Buaya Kojek di Crocodile Park . . Buaya Muara termasuk salah satu satwa langka yang dilindungi oleh Undang Undang Konservasi No. 5 Tahun 1990. Dengan demikian BKSDA dan Bapak Muhamad Irwan telah memberikan contoh terpuji untuk tidak memelihara satwa liat di Rumah dan memberikan penghidupan yang lebih baik bagi Kojek. . . Kojek adalah jenis Buaya Muara (Crocodylus porosus) yakni buaya terbesar di dunia. Buaya Muara ini hidup di sungai-sungai dan di dekat laut (muara) . . Di Taman Safari Indonesia Bogor, Kojek ditangani oleh para ahli baik Dokter Hewan maupun Keeper. . . Besar harapan, semoga di Lembaga Konservasi Taman Safari Indonesia Bogor Kojek tidak hanya tumbuh dengan sehat dan bahagia tapi juga dapat berkembang biak dengan baik.
That said, the park advised Irwan and his family not to visit Kojek too often as it could rekindle emotional bonds between them and the beast, delaying his acclimatization process.