Crocodile dies at Lincoln Park Zoo

March 9, 2010 (CHICAGO)

R1 was a dwarf crocodile who lived a lonely life until the past few years.

R1 lived at Lincoln Park Zoo's African Journey exhibit and he was never much for getting his picture taken so a rare zoo photo of him is one of the few memories of the dwarf crocodile. R1, or Reptile One, arrived at Lincoln Park Zoo in 1940. He died suddenly Monday.

"We don't know what happened to R1 but he was around 71, 72 years old. So we think he was an older crocodile, although crocodiles do live to a very old age. So we don't know what was the actual cause of death but we are deeply saddened to lose an old friend," said Dr. Megan Ross, general curator Lincoln Park Zoo.

When R1 arrived at the zoo he was just 12 inches long and just think. He was at Lincoln Park Zoo before Marlin Perkins. So R1 arrived at Lincoln Park Zoo in 1940 and for 60 years he basically sat around not doing much. But then 10 years ago they tried to get him interested in a female named Maggie. That didn't work until three years ago when it finally did.

And just one look at Maggie and you can see why R1 fell for her. Three years ago Maggie and R1 became an item and an item and parents.

"Three years ago in 2007 R1 and Maggie produced their first clutch of offspring. And so we have five of them here. And so these offspring are going to be the next generation of African dwarf crocodiles," said Dr. Ross. "He has left a legacy."

R1 showed no signs of being sick. His death is a mystery so an animal autopsy will be performed.

"We'll determine the cause of death through that," said Dr. Ross. "It certainly could just be old age."

Maggie is, of course, still hiding in her exhibit at the zoo. She'll keep an eye out for you.

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