German zoo forced to rename Fidel the crocodile

November 14, 2013

It seems a young crocodile at a German zoo is having a politically-inspired identity crisis.

A baby crocodile. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
A baby crocodile. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

Zookeepers at the Hoyerswerda zoo in Saxony had given the facility’s new arrivals — seven little reptile hatchlings —  names that evoked their Cuban homeland. One of them, who had been dubbed “Fidel,” quickly gained a thuggish reputation, reports the  German edition of the European news organization The Local, “for his aggressive behavior towards his siblings, whom he would regularly attack and bite.”

And that’s when his name became problematic. Cultural groups, including one that has given generous donations to the zoo, complained about the political overtones, even though zoo officials say they didn’t mean to make a statement.

“Nobody intended it to be a direct reference to dictator Fidel Castro or indeed a glorification of him as a person,” said the director of the zoo, which is located in the former communist East Germany.

Still, not wanting to offend, they changed the moniker to “Fidelio.” At least for now — the newspaper notes that the little creature is too young to have had bloodwork done that would confirm its gender, so it’s possible that he’s not a he, after all. The backup name is Fidelia.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.
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Al Kamen | November 13, 2013