A beloved saltwater crocodile at a Queensland zoo has been filmed coughing up a plastic drink bottle that was carelessly tossed in its enclosure.
The distressing video shows a keeper at Rockhampton Zoo using a red stick to lure The Colonel out of the water and help remove the rubbish from its mouth.
Staff shared video of Thursday's incident on Facebook under the headline "Plastic bottles are a hazard", adding that the croc actually regurgitated two plastic bottles that day.
"Yesterday our zoo staff witnessed The Colonel, our large saltwater crocodile, in some distress," the zoo wrote on Facebook alongside the shocking video.
"He was coughing and clearly trying to dislodge something from his throat. After some time, he regurgitated two plastic drink bottles. It was distressing to see The Colonel going through this as a result of a small minority who don't do the right thing.
"These plastic bottles have the potential to kill a croc as they can cause internal lacerations, ulcers, infection or impaction. The vast majority of zoo visitors are very respectful of our animals. However, if you witness anybody throwing items into exhibits or harassing the animals, please report it to zoo staff immediately."
Mum Lauren Strickland was visiting the zoo with her son Darcy Barraclough when she saw the croc regurgitate the bottles.
"It was terrible to see," she told The Morning Bulletin.
"I'd gone there with my son and noticed (the crocodile) had regurgitated some green muck. He was quite tense. He looked really uncomfortable. He bought up one of the bottles under the water and then bought up another bottle and kept it in his mouth."
Ms Strickland said she ran to get the zoo keepers, who helped remove the plastic from The Colonel's mouth.
Rockhampton Regional Councillor Cherie Rutherford said zoo staff are monitoring the croc's condition, and plan to erect more warning signs in the park about littering.
"It was distressing to see The Colonel going through this as a result of a small minority who don't do the right thing," she said.