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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 August 2005, 00:44 GMT 01:44 UK
Defiant alligator draws LA crowds
Even a small alligator could pack quite a punch
Residents of Los Angeles have been hailing a new hero, a fugitive alligator basking in a city lake, which has outwitted captors for over a week.

Dozens of local residents have been gathering daily at the lakeside in a city park, hoping for a glimpse of the elusive seven-foot reptile.

Officials have decided to suspend their search, hoping their prey will relax and become easier to snare.

They say they are still confident of capturing the animal.

No-one knows its origins, though authorities in the US city suspect it is an abandoned pet.

Alligators are not native to the state of California.

'Gator therapy'

Jay Young, an alligator wrangler, has made several unsuccessful attempts to capture the creature, nicknamed Carlito and Harbor Park Harry, since it first made an appearance in the lake on 12 August.

Now chasers have decided to take a break, hoping to get the reptile to lower its guard.

"The gator is stressed, and we don't want him scared or sick," Mr Young said.

"We're going to get him back to kind of relaxing and laying on the lily pads and having a good time again, so we're doing therapy for the gator," Harbor Area parks superintendent Ron Berkowitz told local TV.

Visitors have been tempting the alligator with food such as tortillas, French bread and doughnuts, but to no avail. It has not been seen since Wednesday.

T-shirts are on sale with alligator logos.

If captured, the animal will be taken to Los Angeles Zoo.

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