Shoppers spotted a four-foot crocodile that had apparently been dropped off outside a reptile business at a California strip mall yesterday morning and sprung himself from his container. Witnesses called the cops while the croc wandered over to TJ Maxx to hang out, reports KCRA.com.
It’s unclear who left the crocodile, but police say he came with a note that said “call rescue,” and identified the animal as a Nile crocodile. He was lassoed by an animal control expert and coerced back into his cage.
“It was most likely a crocodile that was illegally brought into the country or illegally captured elsewhere in the county,” said a police rep.
To be clear, this is not some harmless animal — it’s illegal to own a crocodile for a reason, notes a California Fish and Wildlife official.
“This one is a really nasty crocodile,” said Patrick Foy, a game warden. “It’s got a really bad attitude. This animal genuinely is a very dangerous animal. Leaving it in a parking lot absolutely (puts) the public at risk, especially kids who might think that they can go and touch (it) — people who just don’t know how dangerous these crocodiles really are.”
The reptile store serves as a safe surrender site for animals that are no longer wanted by their owners. But a store employee says the usual pets are bearded dragons, pythons and like, and that getting a croc is “unusual.”
He’s now in the hands of California wildlife officials and will probably end up in a zoo, where there are no discount stores for name brand goods or even a pretzel stand.