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Later alligator: Chicago wants scaly resident out of local lagoon

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CHICAGO (Reuters) – An alligator has taken up residence in a Chicago lagoon, surprising locals after a winter of polar temperatures in the third-largest U.S. city.

Police confirmed the reptile had been spotted on Tuesday in Humboldt Park Lagoon, on Chicago’s west side. It was still eluding capture on Wednesday despite pledges from local officials to trap it.

Authorities aim to have the animal, estimated to be four to five feet (1.2-1.5 meters) long, humanely trapped and relocated to a zoo for veterinary evaluation, said Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi on Twitter.

Temperatures in Chicago on Wednesday were hovering in the mid-90s Fahrenheit (mid-30s Celsius), in the range when alligators are most active, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Alligators can go up to two months without eating and capturing it could be time consuming, said Rich Crowley, president of the Chicago Herpetological Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reptiles and amphibians.

“The alligator is still very shy,” said Crowley, explaining it was likely once a pet and was still getting used to the new surroundings. Crowley estimates the alligator to be likely five to 10 years old. They can live to be 80.

Officials warned residents against attempting to capture the alligator on their own and said they had sent out an expert known as “Alligator Bob” to snag the gator.

Alligator Bob is a volunteer who declines to have his full name used. He works with Chicago officials to capture exotic animals, according to Crowley.

“Alligator Bob is the hero we all deserve right now. Give him space and let him humanely catch our new friend,” the 14th District Police Department said on Wednesday in response to several Twitter offers of help.

American alligators normally live in freshwater wetlands and marshes in the Southeastern United States.

The police department warned residents against keeping baby reptiles, pointing out that they could pose a danger once they grow up.

Reporting by Barbara Smith; Editing by Caroline Stauffer and Sandra Maler

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Chicago alligator stakeout snaps shut after professional catches reptile

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CHICAGO (Reuters) – An elusive alligator residing in a Chicago lagoon was caught early on Tuesday after the reptile, thought to be an abandoned pet, captivated locals for nearly a week.

The alligator, called “Chance the Snapper” after Chicago-born hip-hop artist Chance the Rapper, is a 5-foot-3 male who appeared to be “very healthy,” said Kelley Gandurski, executive director for Chicago Animal Care and Control.

Chicago authorities brought in Frank Robb, an expert from Florida with nearly 24 years experience capturing reptiles, to stake out the animal in Humboldt Park Lagoon on Chicago’s West Side after it eluded a volunteer trapper.

Robb, who arrived on Sunday evening, caught the alligator around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

The alligator “needed quiet, and he needed the park to be closed off,” Robb said at a news conference. Robb later held up the animal with its mouth taped shut. Curious locals had been swarming to the lagoon in hopes of catching a glimpse of the unusual creature.

American alligators normally live in freshwater wetlands and marshes in the Southeastern United States – not in the northern Midwest.

Robb said he took eight laps around the lagoon and was able to track down “Chance” soon thereafter. The reptile was caught using a small hook while observing the lily pads.

It is unclear where the alligator, which authorities have said is likely 5 to 10 years old, will reside next, though police previously said it would go to a zoo or animal rescue.

Gandurski took the opportunity to share some advice.

“These types of animals don’t make good pets,” she said. “Come and adopt a cat or a dog from a shelter … there is so much need.”

Reporting by Barbara Smith; editing by Caroline Stauffer and Leslie Adler

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Colombian caught in Spain with cocaine under toupee

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A man poses with a drug package on his head, that he hid under a toupee, after being arrested in Barcelona, Spain, in this picture released on July 16, 2019. Spanish National Police via REUTERS

MADRID (Reuters) – A Colombian man was detained at Barcelona’s international airport after half a kilo of cocaine was found hidden under an over-sized toupee, Spanish police said on Tuesday.

Arriving on a flight from Bogota, the man attracted police attention as he looked nervous and had a disproportionately large hairpiece under his hat. They found a package stuck to his head with about 30,000 euros ($34,000) of cocaine.

“There is no limit to the inventiveness of drug traffickers trying to mock controls,” said the police statement.

The statement enclosed a photo of a middle-aged man – apparently still wearing the toupee though with his eyes blocked in the image – but gave no more details of his identity.

Over 100 kilos of cocaine were seized by Spanish police at the Barcelona-El Prat airport in 2018.

The Colombian was detained at the end of June.

($1 = 0.8894 euros)

Reporting by Sarah Dagher; Editing by Paul Day and Andrew Cawthorne

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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The longest toilet break? Belgian sits for five days in bid for record

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OSTEND, Belgium (Reuters) – A Belgian man sat on a toilet for nearly five days this week in a bid to set a world record.

Belgian Jimmy de Frenne sits on a toilet in a cafe in an attempt to enter the Guinness Book of Records for a new record for sitting on a toilet for the longest time, in Ostend, Belgium, July 11, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

Jimmy De Frenne, a 48-year old who is learning to be a bus driver, set himself a challenge of sitting for 165 hours on a toilet set up specially for the feat in the middle of a bar, but gave up on Friday morning after 116 hours.

“Self-mockery is the best humor there is. Why am I doing this? Why not? There is nothing I like more than people making fun of me, because then I can do the same with them,” De Frenne told Reuters Television.

Filip’s Place bar in Ostend was open throughout, allowing De Frenne’s friends and family to stop by for a chat.

De Frenne was allowed five minutes off every hour, which he could accumulate over several hours to allow him to sleep. Ironically, he needed toilet breaks as his bar toilet was not plumbed in.

Sitting that long was not as easy as it might have seemed.

“I was very tired and my legs hurt but I believe in my success and try to make this record official,” de Frenne said.

There is no official world record for the sitting on a toilet, but De Frenne said he had discovered someone else had done it for 100 hours before.

De Frenne said Guinness World Records was aware of the record attempt and that local officials and witnesses were making checks to validate it.

No one was immediately available for comment at Guinness World Records.

Writing by Alexandra Regida; Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Frances Kerry

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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