If your husband made you choose between a wild crocodile or your marriage, a lot would choose to save the marriage and to hand the crocodile off to live in a sanctuary to be with its crocodile buddies. But for 52-year-old Vicki Lowing of Victoria, Australia, she chose the rather unpopular choice and apparently hasn’t looked back ever since.
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Johnie the crocodile has been under Vicki’s wing for thirteen years now. She has made himself feel so much at home in Vicki’s household that the crocodile cuddles up to her human mom to watch television.
Vicki gave the abandoned crocodile a home after she was literally left on her door anonymously. She had prior practice taking care of orphaned crocs and immediately softened up to Johnie. But this did not sit well with her then husband, Greg, who was more appalled at the sight. The couple officially divorced in 2005, nine years since taking Johnie in. Vicki had said that the once happy marriage had faltered after Greg asked her to choose between her dream to rescue these reptiles or to save their own marriage. It didn’t take her a long time to decide because her passion meant more than anything in this world, even more than her husband.
Vicki says that “husbands can look after themselves but my crocodile can’t make his meals,” and that having Johnie in her life had influenced her decision a lot. But she does admit that she was spending way more time with her crocodile rather than Greg.
“I think he became jealous of the amount of time I spent with Johnie. He said I devoted all my time on the crocodile instead of him,” Vicki lamented. She also shared her frustrations on how he dared make her choose between her crocodile and him. “I had given up a lot of other things in the relationship, but I won’t give up what I already had before I met him and what he knew I came with,” Vicki added.
Vicki, who is a registered nurse, began getting involved with animal rescue way before she met Greg. She did coax him to do the same, but over the years, he began to get frustrated with her priorities. It was a lose-lose situation, but Vicki is positive that their decision to end their marriage was more than enough.
Vicki treats her animals like actual children. She has a son named Andrew, who is just around the same age as Johnie, but she insists that the crocodile has posed no danger to him throughout his life.
“They were like siblings, following each other around. And as Andrew learnt and grew his curious side, so did Johnie. I would find Johnie emptying the cupboards, just as Andrew had done a few weeks earlier,” Vicki said. “They were developing and learning their key skills together. Johnie was no different to any toddler.”
Johnie would sometimes stay in Andrew’s bed when he was younger, similar to what an ordinary family pet would do. Vicki claimed that she has the ability to domesticate these animals and can even speak to them telepathically. She has taken good care of Johnie so much that the crocodile has now grown to a staggering 1.5 meters long and weighs 12 kg.
Andrew and Johnie seem to have equally odd “sibling” relationship themselves, even reaching to the point that they once fought over toys and their mother’s attention. Vicki also sees Johnie as a blessing, as she had always wanted to have a daughter.
“I had to tell Andrew his brother was actually his sister. We’ve stuck with the name Johnie, though, because its what we, and she, is used to,” she said, recalling the time they found out that Johnie was in fact a female. “And I was secretly thrilled—I’ve always wanted a daughter.”
Despite her questionable choices, Vicki is happy with her life and says that one big advantage of having Johnie around is the fact it scares the burglars away. Now Vicki’s goal is to raise awareness and funds to help raise Johnie, as caring for a wild animal needs both precise feeding and heating at the same time.