October 23, 2014

Elyria
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Reggie the alligator runs free — again

LOS ANGELES  — You can’t keep a good gator down.

An alligator that became a celebrity after eluding trappers for nearly two years at an urban lake managed to escape from his new home at the Los Angeles Zoo on Wednesday. It was nearly opening time before Reggie was caught.

Keepers discovered the 7½-foot gator was missing from his personal exhibit pond at around 7:30 a.m., and a search of every rock and bush proved he wasn’t anywhere in the display.

The wily beast was finally found near a loading dock several hundred yards away shortly before the zoo’s 10 a.m. opening time, spokesman Jason Jacobs said. It’s believed he had climbed a mesh-covered side wall of the exhibit.

“It proves to us that he’s a very smart, healthy gator,” Jacobs said.

Reggie was placed in quarantine while a mesh overhang was added to his exhibit to prevent another escape.

Reggie was spotted in Harbor City’s Machado Lake in August 2005. Authorities say a man who illegally raised Reggie as a pet dumped the gator in the lake when it got too big.

After several attempts, Reggie finally was captured in May. He was introduced to the public last Thursday, and fans have been eager to see him.

“I am sure that Reggie simply wanted to explore his new home at the zoo and introduce himself to his neighbors,” City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who represents the Harbor City area, said of his escape. “Or maybe he was heading back to Harbor City.”

“We all know that Reggie is a very smart and elusive gator,” she said. “It took us almost two years to catch him, and I would expect nothing less than at least one escape attempt from him.”