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Worry as Florida Zoo Croc 'Maximo' Stops Feeding; 'He's Testing Us' News Service
March 9, 2007 15:53 EST

File photo of 'Maximo' at rest. courtesy St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Florida -- What do you do when a 1,250-pound crocodile turns into a diva? Take him away from his audience.

Officials at the St. Augustine Farm and Zoological Park said Maximo has been refusing for about a month to cooperate for his daily feedings of guinea pigs and quail.

Kevin Torregrosa, the senior reptile keeper, stopped Maximo's public feedings recently to retrain him.

"He knows what he wants to do. He's testing us," Torregrosa told The St. Augustine Record.

For his first snack, Maximo is supposed to get out of the water and walk on a small beach in his exhibit. For a second treat, Maximo is supposed to return to the water, jump up and reach for the food, which is dangled above him on a pole.

The croc's routine is not about entertaining visitors, it's about fitness. Crocodiles like Maximo, who are more than 15 feet long, are prone to obesity and need exercise to keep trim, officials said.