In an all-time first since his arrival, Keepers at the Australian Reptile Park undertook the incredibly dangerous and mammoth task of catching Elvis, their massive saltwater crocodile. After noticing that he had a problematic tooth that was showing signs of infection, Keepers knew that they would have to risk life and limb to catch Elvis and perform a health-check on the tooth to ensure he stays in good health.

The event was nothing short of excitement and danger as Keepers had to wrangle and restrain the powerful 4.75 metre crocodile. There were a few close calls, with Elvis thrashing around and performing an almighty death-roll as head ropes were placed around his top jaw. Once the ropes were placed, seven keepers had to tackle the daunting task of diving onto his back whilst Reptile Park Owner, Liz Gabriel cautiously taped Elvis’ jaw shut. To ensure the safety of the staff, vets and Elvis himself, the crocodile was also given a muscle relaxant to make this already mammoth task, a little bit easier.

Once the relaxant had set in, Head Vet from Somersby Animal Hospital, Dr Robin Crisman, got to work with taking X-rays of Elvis’ jaw to see what condition his teeth were in. The X-ray revealed several problematic teeth that needed immediate removal. With a monstrous job now on her hands, Dr Crisman risked her hands in the mouth of a deadly creature to remove not one, but three teeth.

Billy Collett, Operations Manager at the Park commented that “Whilst saltwater crocodiles lose and replace their teeth naturally across their lifetime, we saw a tooth growing in the wrong direction, so we had to perform a health-check to make sure that this tooth wasn’t going to cause any major health issues for Elvis.”

Mr Collett continued, “This health check was one like no other. Even throughout the procedure, all seven Keepers needed to wrangle him to keep him restrained. Elvis is such a powerful animal and I tell you what, my whole body was sore by the end of the day. But after two hours, Dr Crisman had done an amazing job of finally removing all three teeth with fingers intact.”

“It was definitely an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ situation for our staf­­­f as this is easily the most dangerous health check you’ll ever perform right here at the Park. We’ve had Elvis since 2007 and we’ve never had to catch him, so this is a massive deal for our team. But, I’m glad to report that Elvis is now in good health since the operation and we’ll monitor how he goes over the next couple of weeks,” Mr Collett concluded.

Elvis came to The Australian Reptile Park in 2007 from ­­­the Northern Territory where he was causing havoc to fisherman’s boats in Darwin Harbour.  He has a reputation for keeping staff on their toes, so the process of catching him needed to be cautiously thought out.

Elvis the crocodile is an ambassador for Saltwater crocodiles and one of the most popular animals at the Australian Reptile Park. By having such a large profile, he serves to provide people with a connection to saltwater crocodiles and educates his fans of the importance of saltwater crocodiles in the environment.