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Friday, 22 June, 2001, 06:49 GMT 07:49 UK
Croc snatch in New York park
Spectacled caiman
Spectacled caimans grow to 2.5 m in length
A reptile which had been worrying visitors to Central Park in New York for almost a week has finally been captured.

City officials brought in specialist Native American trackers from Florida to hunt the spectacled caiman, a member of the crocodile family, which they believe may have been an abandoned pet.


He will be given a good home. He will not be turned into a purse

Tracker Mike Bailey
Mike and Tina Bailey circled a lake at the north end of Central Park in a canoe for several minutes and shone a flashlight into some reeds.

Then Tina lunged forward and grabbed the reptile with her bare hands.

The caiman, which turned out to be only 60 cm long, was originally thought to be an alligator.

It has been taken to a safe refuge while New York city officials decide what to do with it.

Spectacled caimans grow to about 2.5 m in length, and inhabit tropical wetlands in Central and South America.

Victory lap

Mr Bailey did a victory lap of the lake after the catch, holding the caiman above his head like a trophy.

Mike Bailey
Bailey - held the caiman like a trophy
"He will be given a good home," Mr Bailey said. "He will not be turned into a purse."

The city parks commissioner, Henry Stern, said the reptile was filmed by a security camera after being spotted by visitors near a lake on Saturday.

New York's last alligator scare was in 1997, when an illegal pet was transferred from a bathtub to a lake in the Queens district.

Legend has it that alligators live in the city's sewers, but Mr Bailey said that winter temperatures in the city would kill the reptiles.

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See also:

21 Mar 01 | Americas
Florida on alligator alert
10 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Vanishing reptiles prompt concern
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