Crocodile dies after chewing on electric wire after being ‘attracted’ to it | Washington DC

An endangered crocodile in a Smithsonian zoo in the US died after apparently biting into a live electrical cord in its shelter.

The Cuban crocodile, a 10-year-old male reptile, was discovered on 17 December inside its enclosure by staff at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (NZCBI)’s Reptile Discovery Center in Washington, DC.

The staff members determined that the crocodile likely died after chewing a replacement electrical outlet after being “attracted” to it, NZCBI said in a statement.

“Known for their aggressive behavior, the crocodile pulled the electric equipment off the wall and bit various pieces,” read part of the statement.

The facility was inspected during closing the night before the incident, when everything appeared to be in place. An investigation is ongoing.

A male Cuban crocodile can grow up to more than 10ft larger than female crocodiles. The electrical equipment inside the facility was only 4.5ft high, which would have made it accessible to an average-sized male Cuban crocodile.

The crocodile is listed as “critically endangered”, according to the Red List by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They are found primarily in Zapata Swamp in the south-west and Lanier Swamp on Isla de Juventud in Cuba.

The species is victim to illegal poaching for the harvesting of its meat.

In response to the death, NZCBI is closing the enclosure to any other habitants for the time being, and establishing electric breakers across the unit.