A quick safety brief before the capture begins
The Singapore Zoo crew were brilliant! The keeper knew exactly how to convince our monster target male towards my lasso
Briano jumps off to get the tarp out of his mouth
 

In February 2005, Singapore Zoo asked me if we could catch and relocate an absolutely enormous Crocodilian species known as a False Gharial (Tomistoma Schlegelii). To be perfectly honest I was shocked at the size of the animal when I saw it, and by crikey he had the power and attitude to match.

The False Gharial is a highly endangered species throughout the majority of it’s range, which is in
freshwater swamps, rivers and lakes on the Malay Peninsula to Indonesia.

Singapore Zoo wanted to translocate the huge saurian into a new enclosure with a couple of females, and needed our expertise to handle the massive animal. When I heard he was 15 feet long I was a little shocked, as this species has only previously been measured at 4m, which is 13 feet.

We got the shock of our lives when we measured him during capture – he was a cool 15½ foot, which is closer to 5m! Captivity was obviously to his benefit, and at 40 years of age he was excessively strong and healthy.

I sent Briano (Head Crocodile Keeper) and Laura (Marketing) over a couple of days prior to my arrival to sort out logistics. This gave them a good opportunity to check out the location where it was being moved to, and check the dimensions of the all important carry crate. Briano didn’t think that the crate was quite long enough, so we asked them to add another couple of feet.

As luck would have it, Dr. Jon Hanger (Australia Zoo’s vet) and Giles Clark (Senior Big Cat Handler) were in Singapore and joined us for the capture. Jon and Giles had been working on our conservation project in Indonesia, assisting the elephants and their mahouts that were affected by the tsunami, and were on their way home. It was good to get a couple more Zoo Crew on board.

The relocation went without a hitch! The False Gharial was keen to get into his new home, and with more space he will be able to get more exercise and also breed, as there are a couple of good looking female crocs already in the enclosure.

Singapore Zoo and Australia Zoo have been working together harmoniously – they’re our sister zoo in principle, and I couldn’t wait to help them out!


The Complete Singapore Sling Photo Gallery  
   
Before the big capture, I filmed an acupuncture on a gorgeous female Asian Elephant which had a sore leg   Caught up with my old friend “Ah Meng” the grandmother of Singapore Zoo’s orang-utans  
       
   
She enjoys a cuppa and a chat   Briano and Laura went up first to work on logistics. Check out the size of him - that False Gharial is big too!  
       
   
Briano decided the carry crate was too small, so it had to be extended   False Gharials are similar to the Gharial with their long slender snouts  
       
   
Have a go at how thick and robust they are - perfect health!   A quick safety brief before the capture begins  
       
   
Top jaw ropes on bamboo poles were pretty easy to manipulate in the crystal clear water   The Singapore Zoo crew were brilliant! The keeper knew exactly how to convince our monster target male towards my lasso  
       
   
Got one on, but for safety I’m going to put two top jaw ropes on   Whammo! Two on and he’s going off the Richter scale  
       
   
The zoo team of about 30 good strong blokes drag him onto the tarp ready for me to launch myself onto his head   As soon as I jumped on his whoppin’ great angry head, my back up team piled on to stop him from thrashing and potentially killing someone  
       
   
Briano jumps off to get the tarp out of his mouth   It takes sheer guts and determination, and every ounce of strength you can muster up to hold him whilst Briano tapes his jaw’s closed  
       
   
With his jaws secured and the team in control, I organise measurements and a vet check   Crikey! He’s 15 ½ feet long!  
       
   
Even the team are shocked at his length and massive bulk   Dragging him up and into the crate wasn’t easy. Thank goodness for my pull-through technique  
       
   
And he weighs a ton – very, very heavy! It takes three quarter’s of the Zoo staff to pick him up   I tip him out of the crate into his new pond  
       
   
He’s gonna love it in here with a couple of gorgeous sheila’s   Me and the Singapore Zoo crew – totally stoked with our job!  
       
     
Johnny Stainton totally stoked with the mission. (Left to right) Laura, Dr. Jon, Giles, John, and Briano      
       
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