Mystery crocodile sightings captivate central Germany

Along a river in central Germany, something scaly has been scaring horses and confusing fishermen.

Mystery crocodile sightings captivate central Germany
A helicopter takes part in a search for a crocodile along the Unstrut river in central Germany. Image: DPA
Swimming and fishing were banned and the police were brought in to search after a number of crocodile sightings along the river Umstrut in Thuringia, central Germany. 

On Sunday, police and the local fire brigade used a boat equipped with a thermo-imaging camera, a helicopter and a drone to search a 12-kilometre stretch of the river after a number of sightings. 

A similar search for a crocodile seen in the river was called off in late August. 

Police sent out a warning via an app on Sunday to local residents to tell them about the crocodile, while riverside cycle paths were closed. 

The search came to an end late on Sunday evening, with a police spokesperson telling DPA “you couldn’t make any determinations in any way” about the location or the existence of the crocodile. 

Authorities closed locks on each side of the river where the crocodile was seen in order to prevent it travelling further. 

District fire inspector Jonas Weller told German tabloid Bild “we take the threat very seriously”. 

‘Very plausible: I assume the crocodile is there’

Several callers reported sightings of the reptile to the police on Sunday afternoon until early evening. 

A horse breeder told police she had seen the crocodile near Schönewerda, around 100 kilometres west of Leipzig, on Sunday. 

She said her animals shied away from the two-metre long crocodile, who sat on the river with its mouth open before sliding back into the water. 

Fishermen told local media they were certain the animal was a crocodile and n”due to its jagged tail”. 

The MDR Thüringen media outlet said police had found “traces” that could have possibly come from the crocodile on Sunday. 

Götz Ulrich (CDU), the district administrator, told the MDR “it is very plausible and I assume that the crocodile is actually there”. 

A swimming and fishing ban in the region will remain in place in the region. 

Animal conservationists also took part in the search.

Weller said that despite the findings, no further searches would be conducted in the coming days. Authorities will meet on Monday to decide how to proceed. 


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REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.