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80-Pound Lizard Escapes After Being Shot, Frightens Florida Neighborhood

Police say they're sure they shot a four-foot-long, 80-pound monitor lizard that had been lurking in an Orlando suburb for months. Still, neighbors aren't ready to let their children or pets back outside until they see a carcass.

The lizard didn't bite anyone, but police officers were authorized to kill it because of the potential danger it posed to small children and animals.

An officer shot the reptile twice Sunday but wasn't close enough to catch it before the animal scampered into a retention pond, said Lt. Dennis Stewart of the Casselberry Police Department.

"If they did shoot it, I'm sure it's going to be angry if it comes out now," said Ilene Gothelf, whose home borders the pond about 10 miles from Orlando. "I want to know that it is safe for the kids to come out."

Authorities said the lizard was likely a pet that escaped or was illegally dumped. For months, it eluded wildlife officials and trappers. At one point, fans of a local morning radio program mistakenly believed there was a reward for its scales.

The Casselberry lizard was less beloved than an alligator that eluded capture for two years in Los Angeles. The gator, a media darling named "Reggie," was finally wrestled into captivity Thursday and taken to the Los Angeles Zoo.