Virginia Beach, Va. – “Grover,” a 13-foot, 28-year-old tomistoma, was found dead in the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center’s crocodile enclosure early Tuesday morning, according to Joan Barns, Va. Aquarium Public Relations Manager.
The cause of sudden death is unknown.
A necropsy will be performed Tuesday afternoon.
One of only seven pairs of the rare crocodilian in the U.S., the Aquarium had hoped that he would breed with his habitat mate, “Gloria”, Barns says.
The pair had produced several eggs, but none were viable. Gloria appears to be in good health and will remain on exhibit.
Herpetological staff was feeding the animals Tuesday morning, and noticed that Grover was unresponsive. The tomistomas receive regular veterinary care, and this particular animal had no apparent health issues.
The tomistomas were added as part of the Aquarium’s Restless Planet gallery which opened in 2009.
“It is always a tragedy to lose an animal, but losing such a rare and precious one is doubly difficult,” said Aquarium Executive Director Lynn Clements. “Certainly our staff, and many of our regular visitors, will mourn his loss.”