Belgrade's Creatures: Muja the Alligator
Although it is often claimed that Muja is the oldest alligator in the world, the truth is that no one knows exactly how old he is - only that when the zoo's oldest employees began working there shortly after WWII, he had already been around for some time. While this anecdotal evidence has thus far not been sufficient to convince the notoriously 'fact obsessed' chaps at Guinness for an official distinction, suffice it to say that Muja is old enough for us.
Often mistakenly called a crocodile, in fact Muja is a North American alligator, likely originating from somewhere near the mouth of the mighty Mississippi River. As a species, alligators - as well as their kinsmen crocodiles and caymans - have been around for eons, witnessing the extinction of countless other animals and plants, not to mention the inevitable evolution and rise of humankind! This somewhat overwhelming realisation, coupled with Muja's own lengthy existence, has endowed the aged beast with an expectedly nonplussed, if not stoic, demeanour.
In other words, if you come to see Muja, don't expect him to put on much of a show. In fact more than a few visitors are convinced that he long ago reached his expiry date, and is now stealthily repositioned by cunning Serbian taxidermists when no one is watching. As a result of this outlandish belief it's become something of a tradition for sceptical visitors to throw coins, small rocks and other objects at the lackadaisical reptile.