Matt first posted back in August on the story of an 8-foot alligator that was found in Lake Machado in the Harbor City area of Los Angeles. It was obviously a released pet, and was a two-week media sensation in the city. People came out to the 54 acre lake to try to see the animal and enterprizing folks sold “I saw the gator” t-shirts and it was a real circus.
The attempts to catch this critter have been an amusing comedy of errors and I regret now not having turned it into a running series here. First the City of Los Angeles hired a team of “gator wranglers” from Colorado (I know, so many alligators live there!) who thrashed around for two weeks, apparently spending more time trying to put a movie deal together than catch the gator. They failed, left town saying they would be back in a couple of weeks, and never returned.
In September, a ex-police officer admitted that the alligator was his pet that he had released into the lake, and that the animal’s name was Reggie. So at least now we knew what to call him. Shortly after this, a second alligator appeared in Lake Machado. This fellow was only 2-3 feet long and promptly dubbed Little Reggie. It didn’t take long for a group of firemen to catch Little Reggie in a net and his fifteen minutes of fame were over.
In October, the City hired a second team of gator wranglers from Florida. You would think these folks had a better chance of knowing their business. They also flailed around accomplishing little for a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, of course, Hurricane Katrina had hit, and a number of Louisiana evacuees came to Los Angeles in her wake. City Councilwoman (publicity hound) Janice Hahn showed up at lakeside, TV cameras in tow, with a Louisiana evacuee gentlemen who claimed to be an expert at gator trapping. She said that this would be a great opportunity to help an unfortunate unemployed displaced man find a job and wanted the City to use him. This fellow observed the Florida wranglers efforts and promptly pronounced their methods “retarded.” The Florida people had their feelings hurt, left in a huff, and never came back. Apparently they had spent too much time talking to screen-writers and producers too.
The City tried to put the Louisiana man on the job, but there was a problem in that he didn’t have liability insurance. After a little more checking, it turned out that he was a con-man, knew nothing about alligators, and there were several warrants out for his arrest. His fifteen minutes were over, too.
Since then, Reggie has been living large in the lake, dining pretty well on carp, ducks, and sea gulls. There hasn’t been any more coverage of efforts to catch him, and as temperatures have cooled he is likely denned up somewhere in torpor.
But Janice Hahn can’t let it go. She was in the middle of the press conference announcing the filing of charges against Reggie’s owner and one of his friends. She admitted that the City has spent $155,000 trying to catch Reggie. She can’t let go of Hollywood either – her latest brainstorm is negotiating with Steve Irwin, star of the Animal Planet cable channel show “The Crocodile Hunter,” to launch another attempt soon.
I’ll keep you posted.