Family attempt to track down long lost pet crocodile

Family's search for long lost pet crocodile
Family's search for long lost pet crocodile

A woman has launched an investigation to track down her family's long lost pet crocodile.

Julia Gillick's family owned a menagerie of exotic creatures including a baby croc named Donald.

But the family, who now live in Brighton, had to let go of the pet when they moved out of their Devon home in the 1960s and took him to Exmouth Zoo - and lost track of him after it closed down.

Julia is on a mission to find Donald, who belonged to her mum's cousin Julia Hopper and her husband Ralph more than 40 years ago.

Donald is likely to still be alive because crocodiles can live up to a century, and he was only a baby when he was given up for adoption.

In a bid to cheer up her elderly cousin, Julia launched an appeal on Facebook and advised to contact Brighton Sealife Centre.

A historian at the aquarium is now helping to trace Donald and said the reptile could be a female, because baby crocs are notoriously difficult to sex.

Julia, from Brighton, said: "My mum's cousin's husband called the crocodile Donald - they thought it was a male.

"But we've seen a record - a newspaper clipping - of a crocodile here in the seventies called Donna.

"People tell me that it's very difficult to gauge the sex of a crocodile so it's possible that Donald turned into Donna."

Staff at Brighton Sealife Centre said it was donated to the aquarium before it changed ownership in 1991.

Crocodiles are no longer kept at the aquarium but the historian thinks if Donald is Donna, the long lost pet was transferred to a zoo in Tenerife.

Julia added: "Donald may have had a sex change and be living the high-life in Tenerife.

"This historian might be able to let us know a bit more about the animals that were transferred to Tenerife and track them that way."

Julia received an overwhelming response from her Facebook appeal posted on the Hanover Community noticeboard and hopes to explore the new lead in Tenerife.

She said: "If we found Donald, it would be amazing to get a photograph of him or a little update of how he is doing that I could send to my mum's cousin who is an old lady now.

"I'm sure that would cheer her up and make her smile.

"The day after posting a question, 50 people offered advice

"It's been amazing, it's just a lovely community here - and who wouldn't want to find Donald."