Tears for the crocodile

I have just got back from a trip to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland with my family. While we were there we visited the Australia Zoo at Beerwah. It is, of course, famous as the “home of the Crocodile Hunter”, Steve Irwin. It is a great zoo and now a bit of a memorial for Irwin who died so freakishly in 2006. Irwin was a great advocate for protecting crocodiles (many of the world’s crocodile species are endangered) and other wildlife. He used his celebrity to focus attention on wildlife conservation and to raise funds to do so.

The term crocodile is often used loosely to include all members of the order Crocodilia, which includes crocodiles, alligators, caimans, gharials and fossil families.

Crocodile is modern English word from the 1560s. It was cokedrille or kokedrille in Middle English (c.1300) which came from Medieval Latin cocodrillus from Latin crocodilus. (Alligator is a shortening of the Spanish el lagarto de Indias meaning the lizard of the Indies, not as many writers like to say a word for lizard).

Its original form was the Greek krokodilos. This word was first used by Herodotus, the Father of History, referring to the Nile Crocodile.  It comes from the Greek kroke for pebbles and drilos for worm.  Heredotus was referring to it as a pebble worm because of it’s basking habit on the banks of the river.

The Ancient Egyptians worshiped a crocodile god, Sobek. He was the protector of reptiles; and patron of kings. The crocodile was a powerful symbol of fertility, death and burial. So for Steve Irwin lets look after them.