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8 Jun, 2009 05:43

Crocodiles are girl’s best friends

Coming face to face with a crocodile may seem a scary prospect for most people, but not for one four-year-old Russian girl from St. Petersburg, who is surprising everyone with her exotic friendships.

How did she latch on to the idea of making buddies with the crocs? It was Margarita’s father, Sergey, who started this exotic friendship. He’s been working with crocodiles in a circus for decades. But during his daring performance, Sergey shows what Margarita is still a long way from learning.

“She was two months old when we first put her on a crocodile’s back. Of course we were afraid – but she stroked the animal and then we saw that she smiled and started laughing. Both of them were happy,” Sergey recalls.

Since then, Margarita has got to the point where she now says she can’t imagine her life without these deadly predators.

“When I grow up, I’ll be a mother. I’ll have this many children (showing 10 fingers) and this many crocodiles,” the girl laughs.

But not everyone shares her enthusiasm. Natalya Istratova from the Moscow Zoo says such flippancy is simply inexcusable, and could cost lives.

“They are very dangerous and unpredictable animals, they are wild and they can’t be tamed. You never know when they are going to attack you. There are many cases when animals have killed the family members of trainers, but it hasn't been a lesson for others, as far I can see,” Natalia said.

But despite their fearsome reputation, Sergey believes the crocodiles will never hurt Margarita, as they're clever and sensitive, and can feel how much she loves them.

Little Margarita is too young to think about her future career, but when you see how easily she communicates with the predators, you start thinking that she’ll most likely follow in her parents’ footsteps. At least there will hardly be a lack of spectators, as the four-year-old already has her own audience – although for now only behind the scenes.