The last thing Thomas Reissmann expected when he began his shift sorting through refuse at a recycling plant near Berlin was a face off with a deadly predator.
Now, does this go in with plastic, paper or glass for recycling?
A recycling operative's lot in life can be a dirty, often disgusting one sifting through the waste of a thousand households. But rarely could it be described as life threatening. However, for Thomas Reissmann, a recycling worker in Grossräschen near Berlin, toil at the conveyor belt looked for an instant like it was going to turn into a deadly fight for survival when he found a crocodile staring at him from the passing rubbish.
"Sure I got a fright," said Reissmann. "We get dead rats, dead cats and hedgehogs but I've never seen anything like this." Luckily for the 39-year-old rubbish sorter, the 1.4-meter long reptile turned out to be dead. "I was careful at first because it could have been alive," he said.
The dead Caiman crocodile was taken to refrigerated storage at the natural history museum in Dresden. Police were trying to ascertain where the reptile had come from but have so far drawn a blank. The Berlin zoo said it had none missing and Frank Plückern, a species protection officer at the Brandenburg State Environmental Agency in Potsdam, said it was not one of the 10 registered crocodiles in the state.
"This poor chap was probably abandoned by someone who didn't know how to care for the animal," he said.