New York's runaway reptile captured

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The Independent US

It was Crocodile Dundee all over again. This time, the stars were Mike and Tina Bailey, two professional alligator wrestlers, who flew from Florida on a mission to snare a two-foot South American cayman on the loose in Central Park.

The creature was snared late Thursday night and paraded before a crush of New York media. The roaming reptile, spotted in Harlem Meer near the Park's northern boundary last weekend, had provided the city with days of fun. Nothing was more comical, however, than its capture under the cover of darkness.

With all the television lights glaring, the moment everyone had been waiting for – including the Parks Commissioner Henry Stern – came at 9.30pm, when the couple stepped into their little green canoe. Just 20 minutes later, Tina spotted the cayman in some reeds near the water's edge and grabbed him.

Had it been tough? "The hardest thing we had to deal with was all the lights in our eyes," Tina confessed later. "She managed to slip her hand up 'bout this close and reach down and catch him, nice and gentle," Mike added, proudly. "No hooks, no ropes – we try to be as humane as possible."

Mr Stern, who must have been wondering whether alligator-hunting was part of his job description, then gave the thing a name. He is now Damon – to rhyme with cayman. To be precise, Damon is a spectacled cayman, a close relation of the alligator, which can grow to eight feet in length.

Damon, who presumably had been brought to New York by somebody as a pet and then released into the park, will either be given to a zoo or returned to the wild in South America. "He will not be made into a purse," assured Mike.