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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 August 2005, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
China hunts runaway crocodiles
A Chinese zoo has set up a telephone hotline to find 13 rare crocodiles that escaped during floods two weeks ago.

The Benxi Shuidong Crocodile Park, in Liaoning province, is worried the Siamese crocodiles might die from the cold, the China Daily newspaper said.

But they could also turn aggressive to humans if they have been unable to find food, the newspaper warned.

A reward of between 2,000 and 3,000 yuan (140-200) has been offered for each crocodile found.

"They are doomed if we don't find them as soon as possible because the autumn cold is drawing near," Mai Yingpei, the zoo's manager, told the China Daily.

According to the newspaper, the ideal temperature for Siamese crocodiles is 17C (63F).

The temperature on the Taizi River, near the farm, is as low as 12C ( 54F), and is expected to get colder in the coming weeks.

Twenty-nine Siamese crocodiles originally escaped two weeks ago, during the worst flood waters to hit the area in 10 years.

Fifteen crocodiles have since been recovered, and one was found dead, the newspaper said.

The Siamese crocodile, originally from tropical or sub-tropical regions of South East Asia, is virtually extinct in the wild.

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