Locals snappy at thieves who knicked their crocodile
STAFF of a Cairns school have been left devastated after their pet crocodile and pet barramundi were stolen over the Australia Day long weekend.
Teachers, the principal and administrative staff of the Holloways Beach Environmental Education Centre returned to work on Tuesday morning to find thieves had broken into their aquarium, and stole "Snappy Tom", a 50cm long saltwater crocodile, and a 60cm barramundi.
The Education Queensland-run facility, established in 1990, aims to provide students with an awareness and concern of the Far Northern coastal environment, from the land to the Great Barrier Reef.
The centre is due to have its first students arriving at the beachside facility next week.
Teacher John Woolcock said despite the aquarium being fully-fenced and padlocked, it appeared offenders had gained access to the croc tank, by busting open a padlock.
"It's quite appalling, we are all quite devastated," he said.
"The cabin next door also had its rear door broken into, but it doesn't appear anything was taken.
"There were obvious signs that people had been there, with stuff lying around and equipment on the ground.
"Our remaining barra seemed pretty stressed out, and didn't eat for a day."
Snappy Tom was donated to the centre by Hartleys Crocodile Adventures, and was displayed under permit from the Department of Environment and Science.
Mr Woolcock said if the croc could not be found, it would take some time - and a lot of paperwork - to find a replacement.
"He was pretty feisty," he said.
"How they got (the croc) out, I don't know.
"We just hope it's not sitting in someone's bathtub in a backyard, or something like that.
"We tried to look after him as best we could."
Cairns Crime Prevention Unit Acting Sergeant Heidi Marek confirmed the theft had been reported to police, and was currently under investigation.
She urged anyone with information that may assist police with their investigations to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.