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Hong Kong Captures Elusive Crocodile - 2004-06-10

Residents of Hong Kong are celebrating the capture of a notorious fugitive on Wednesday. The runaway evaded harpoons, dart guns, and even a famous Australian hunter before wandering into a steel trap Wednesday night. The fugitive was a small salt-water crocodile. He was first seen eight months ago, struggling to a make a home for himself in one of Hong Kong's many polluted creeks.

Crocodiles are not native to the area. Experts believe the one and a half meter long croc must have been a pet, released into the wild when he grew too large.

Hong Kong authorities tried for months to detain him but the wily creature managed to avoid capture. He soon became a local celebrity and some media crowned him personality of the year. The label-conscious people of Hong Kong called him Gucci, after the Italian designer and maker leather goods.

Six months ago Hong Kong even flew in John Lever, a famed crocodile hunter from Australia. But even Mr. Lever could not manage to grab hold of the elusive crocodile.

Finally, Wednesday, Gucci wandered into a snare left near his marsh by authorities with Hong Kong's conservation department.

Mr. Lever says he's happy to see the croc behind bars. "He was a very cagey little character or was a cagey little character, now he's a caged little character."

Mr. Lever hopes Hong Kong will send Gucci to a wildlife sanctuary in the country. He was, he says, a worthy adversary and deserves a good home.