LOS ANGELES – Reggie the alligator reappeared Monday after vanishing for 1½ years in an urban lake where the reptile turned up in 2005 and repeatedly skunked would-be 'gator wranglers.
"After 18 months of hibernation or just eluding us, Reggie has decided to show himself," City Councilwoman Janice Hahn told a press conference next to Harbor Regional Park's Lake Machado.
Hahn said she had asked the Parks and Recreation Department to put a fence back up around the lake.
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"Reggie is older, Reggie is bigger, and he's probably hungry, so I want to make sure that we keep the public safe," she said. "He's a wild alligator and he's unpredictable and we're not really sure what his behavior will be."
Reggie was an illegal pet allegedly tossed into the 50-acre lake by a former Los Angeles policeman when it got too big. It was spotted in August 2005 and caused a stir until disappearing the following October.
At the time Reggie, of uncertain sex, was estimated to be between 5 feet and 7 feet in length.
A series of alligator experts tried and failed to capture Reggie.
Hahn recalled an offer of help from TV's "Crocodile Hunter," Steve Irwin, who was subsequently killed by a stingray last year.
"Steve Irwin, before he tragically passed away, was here at Lake Machado and pledged to come back here with his crew when we spotted Reggie to see if he could help us capture Reggie," she said. "So we're going to call them and see if they might not like to come out in memory of Steve Irwin and finish the job that Steve promised that he would do for Los Angeles."
If captured, the alligator could be housed at the Los Angeles Zoo, she said.
Reggie's fate had been a puzzle, with some believing the alligator had died.
"I think there were many of us who never really believed he was dead but really weren't sure where he was. We don't know where he's been, we don't know what he's been doing — but he's back," the councilwoman said.
Lake Machado is in the Wilmington area of South Los Angeles near the city's port.