World’s oldest American alligator in captivity survived World War II bombings

The Belgrade Zoo in Serbia claims Muja, an American alligator that arrived fully grown from Germany in 1937, is the world's oldest American alligator in captivity, its caretaker revealed Friday.

"Muja is a legend, and not only of our zoo, he's a Belgrade legend!" Aleksandar Rakocevic, the caretaker, told the Associated Press. "Everybody knows Muja."

Rakocevic supported the claim after receiving corroborating information from other zoos and animal rights groups.

Muja became the world's oldest American alligator in captivity when another of its species, Cabulitis, died in Riga Zoo in Latvia in 2007. That alligator was believed to be around 75 years old.

The exact age of Muja is unknown, but it is at least 80 years old.

"We all highly appreciate Muja and his age," a sign reads outside its pen, asking visitors to do the same, according to AP.

Muja, the world's oldest American alligator, as seen in 2009 file photo, before its front right foot was amputated.
Muja, the world's oldest American alligator, as seen in 2009 file photo, before its front right foot was amputated. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Muja is the only animal in the zoo that was there in 1941 and 1944 when the Belgrade Zoo was almost completely destroyed by bombs during World War II. Many of the animals in the zoo were killed.

Not Muja. The American alligator also survived the 1990s bombings of Belgrade in the Balkan crisis.

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Muja remains in excellent shape. Its only health issue came in 2012 when its front right foot needed to be amputated because of gangrene.

Usually, Muja sits motionless in its pen. Some visitors wonder whether it's still alive, but when food is put in front of it, Muja jumps to life, as seen in the ABC News video at the top.

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