Thieves pick wrong gator to tangle with

Posted: Sunday, April 25, 2004

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) Would you upset an alligator named Mr. Cranky Pants? Some thieves who chanced it soon changed their minds.

The four-year-old alligator was stolen from a reptile park north of Sydney recently but officials at the zoo said the thieves may have underestimated his moodiness and let him go.

''Mr. Cranky Pants is a cranky pants, he gets moody and so they probably messed with the wrong alligator and dumped him,'' said Al Mucci, from the Australian Reptile Park in Somersby on New South Wales state's central coast.

The thieves had scaled two barbed-wire fences and climbed into an alligator pit before stealing the 4-foot ornery alligator, Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio said.

Park officials then raised the alarm, concerned for his safety. Following a tip from the public, rangers found the reptile in a nearby creek.

''He looks relieved to be back. You can tell with alligators by their eyes whether they're stressed or not stressed, and he looks glad to be back,'' Mucci said.



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