Pope returns crocodile before possible meeting with Castro

Ahead of his visit Pope Benedict extended a gesture of friendship and returned a 60cm crocodile to Cuba, its native country.

The endangered crocodile was smuggled into Italy by an Italian tourist and was captured in the thief’s kitchen by wildlife experts.

Blessed by the Pope’s chief of staff Monsignor Giovanni Angelo Becciu, and named Benedictus, the croc was given a send off at Rome Zoo.

A spokesman for the Rome Zoo said the Italian tourist was lucky it’s no longer in his kitchen.

‘It can grow to more than twice its current size and can be aggressive and quite dangerous,’ he said.

Meanwhile as other preparations are made for this historic trip, Vatican Spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ confirmed Pope Benedict XVI is available to meet Fidel Castro should he ask to meet with the pontiff when he visits Cuba later this month.

The 85-year-old Cuban leader has made only rare public appearances in recent months.

He was last seen in photographs released by Cuban state media March 2nd with Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, who was recovering from tumor surgery in Cuba.

Benedict arrives in Cuba from Mexico on March 26th.


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