A court in southwestern Bangladesh has jailed two men for severely beating a pregnant crocodile at an Islamic shrine, a news report said Thursday.
Judge Abdus Salam Khan convicted the men of torturing the crocodile and sentenced them Tuesday to two years in jail with hard labor, Dhaka's Daily Star newspaper reported.
The crocodile, named "Pipil," was seriously injured and lost one eye after the men beat her with bamboo sticks at Khan Jahan Ali shrine in April this year, the prosecution said. The shrine is in Bagerhat district, 135 kilometers (85 miles) southwest of the capital, Dhaka.
The men pleaded innocent, the newspaper said.
The shrine has about two dozen crocodiles living in a big pond where pilgrims can feed and watch them.
The men were among a group of people who collect money from visitors by exhibiting the crocodiles. The group is known to beat the crocodiles if they do not respond to their calls, the newspaper said.
According to local authorities, five crocodiles have died in the last 10 years because of mistreatment by the group, it said.
Crocodiles are protected under Bangladesh law, and offenders face up to five years in jail for torturing or killing them.
Officials were not immediately available for comment.