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Published: Tuesday, 5/14/2013

Wild and massive

Baru, a saltwater crocodile, will become a permanent exhibit at the Toledo Zoo. Baru, a saltwater crocodile, will become a permanent exhibit at the Toledo Zoo.

“Wild Walkabout: Wonders from Down Under” is the newest exhibit to come to the Toledo Zoo. Scheduled to open next week, the exhibit includes wallabies, dingoes, kangaroos, and a variety of Australian reptiles.

The exhibit’s grand opening celebration runs from Friday, May 24, through Sunday, May 26. The festivities include Australian-themed activities and live entertainment. Since the exhibit is set to end Sept. 2, many zoo patrons will want to go more than once.

The exhibit includes Baru, believed to be the biggest crocodile in captivity in the Western Hemisphere, measuring 17 feet and weighing in at 1,540 pounds. Baru is a gift of Block Communications Inc., which publishes The Blade.

Baru will be a permanent resident of the zoo. His name is an indigenous Australian word for saltwater crocodile.

Everything is big in Australia, and everything about this new exhibit and this crocodile are appropriately big as well. Baru’s new home is a 12,050-square-foot solarium in the zoo’s Reptile House, which has an 18,000-gallon-pool.

Back in Australia, Baru ate cattle and made something of a nuisance of himself. He he is now being offered chicken, which he has so far declined.

Native Australians call their country “Oz.” This fits, because it is a place like no other. And it is a place so great in its proportion that it is hard to fathom. That’s true of its land, its sky, and its animals.

Baru may be hard for many Toledoans to take in. But thousands will try nonetheless, on May 24 and thereafter.

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