Alligator Found Not Wearing Seat Belt

Cops are used to seeing dogs poking their noses out of car windows — but not alligators.

A black BMW was pulled over on Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia Tuesday after an off-duty officer saw a distinctly reptilian snout protruding from the front passenger-side window, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Inside was Petey, a 3½-foot-long gator, happily sitting in the lap of his owner, 29-year-old Danya Johnson.

"She was very distraught when the alligator was taken away from her," said police spokesman Inspector William Colarulo.

Johnson was cited under an ordinance that forbids wild animals within city limits, and was scheduled to appear in court next month. The car's driver was not cited.

Petey was turned over to the Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Association (search).

Johnson could not be reached for comment, but Colarulo said he believed she had raised the beast since infancy. As a relative youngster, Petey was far from his maximum possible size of 12 feet and 550 pounds.

Were Johnson able to hold onto him, she could have had Petey for a long time. Alligators live about 55 years, according to the Inquirer.

Philadelphia cops found a different alligator loose in the western part of the city last summer, and another was pulled out of a creek in 1995.

Colarulo says he's seen an emu running down Roosevelt Boulevard and a Bengal tiger in a North Philly row house.

"You can just add this to the annals of wild and bizarre animal stories in the city," he told the newspaper.

Gucci the Crocodile Finally Captured

HONG KONG (AP) — A small crocodile that gained celebrity status in Hong Kong by evading dart guns, harpoons and snares set by expert hunters from around the world finally wandered into a trap on Thursday.

Fishermen found Gucci the saltwater croc — first spotted in a swampy creek in November — trapped in a steel noose Thursday morning, and secured it in their nets, said Cheung Chi-sun, a wildlife protection officer from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

A live broadcast on Cable TV showed agriculture department officials in a small boat moving the five-foot-long reptile from the creek. It didn't seem to put up much of a fight.

The croc was taken to an animal center to be examined by government veterinarians, Cheung said.

Where it came from remains a mystery, although local media have speculated that it was an abandoned pet, or an escapee from a mainland Chinese crocodile farm.

Though the croc was small, officials worried that it could pose a threat to the public as the species is known for frequent attacks on humans elsewhere. Media estimated that the government has spent around $26,000 in its effort to catch the animal.

Nicknamed Gucci — after the Italian designer — by local media thanks to Hong Kong's passion for crocodile-skin handbags, the beast avoided initial efforts to snare it by local officials, and later defeated crocodile experts from Australia and China.

Drink, Puke, Get Your Teacher Fired

SMITHFIELD, N.C. — A science teacher who conducted an experiment in which students chugged milk until they vomited has been dismissed.

The Johnston County school board voted 5-1 Tuesday to end Jeff Ferguson's contract seven months after he was suspended over the experiment. Ferguson had taught chemistry and physics at Smithfield-Selma High School (search) for three years.

Ferguson did not attend the meeting, but said in an interview later he was surprised.

"We were led to believe that if we kept on the quiet side that things would be OK," he said. "It's all about who you rub the wrong way, and if you'll be quiet, we'll broker a deal, and then we'll break the deal. The whole thing is a political joke."

Ferguson was suspended with pay in November after some of his honors chemistry students took part in a milk-chugging experiment to test the body's ability to neutralize acids. Each student was given a gallon of milk and tried to drink it in an hour. Some students drank until they vomited, the body's reaction when it can no longer handle the acids in milk.

The case drew national media attention, and students packed a courtroom a week later when Ferguson petitioned to be let back on campus to teach. A judge denied his request.

Ferguson returned to the classroom in January, but retiring Superintendent Jim Causby had already recommended in December against renewing his contract.

Ferguson said that he would file an appeal asking the school board to reverse its decision.

"I still very much appreciate the support of all the parents, students and staff members, who I know spent a lot of time trying to explain the situation," Ferguson said.

— Thanks to Out There reader Geoff H.

Man Arrested Showing Up for Police Ride-Along

GRESHAM, Ore. (AP) — A Troutdale man's hopes of seeing the Gresham Police Department up close were fulfilled when he was arrested for burglary.

Wade Silva, 22, told Gresham police that he was interested in riding along on a patrol "to see what it's like." He told officers he had relatives who work as police officers in other states.

But a standard records check to clear Silva for the ride-along revealed that he had an outstanding felony arrest warrant for burglary.

Police snagged Silva when he showed up last Tuesday for his ride-along, 25 minutes late.

He's now lodged at the Multnomah County Jail (search).

According to police, Silva robbed a woman with whom he stayed for a short time — duplicating her key, then returning after he moved out to take a DVD player, eight DVDs and 100 CDs.

Police said Silva first tried to sell the goods to people who knew about the crime. Then he applied to go on a ride-along with the same law enforcement agency that was investigating the case.

— Thanks to Out There reader Amy W.

Devil Saves Teenager

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) — Ben-Hur Pereira was dressed as a devil, but became the guardian angel of a teenager dangling from a four-passenger gondola on a Ferris wheel.

Pereira, who works as a devil in the "Ghost House" at the Groena Lund amusement park (search) in Stockholm, had stepped out of the attraction Wednesday and saw the 16-year-old boy holding tight to the gondola. He had somehow fallen out of the passenger compartment and was hanging 30 feet above the ground.

Pereira, a trained acrobat, scaled the Ferris wheel, reached the teenager and pushed him back inside the gondola car.

"I acted on impulse. I have the technique and had the equipment. To climb is my job and now it just happened this way," said Pereira, wearing a black body suit with flecks of red, a goatee and a silver stud in his lower lip.

"He was a devil of a hero," Robert Mesterton, Groena Lund's chief executive told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Mesterton said park officials weren't sure how the boy managed to slip out of the gondola but when they saw what happened they stopped the ride.

The teenager wasn't injured but was taken to a hospital for a checkup and released.

Mesterton said the park has had the Ferris wheel for 30 years and Wednesday's incident was the first time anyone had been in danger of falling out. He said the incident is being investigated by the park and police.

Dead Body Goes Undiscovered for 20 Years

TOKYO (AP) — The decomposed body of a man dressed in pajamas was discovered in an abandoned Tokyo apartment building 20 years after he is believed to have died, police said Thursday.

A Tokyo Metropolitan Police official said construction workers were preparing to tear down the building earlier this month when they found the man's skeletal remains laying face-up on a mattress on the tatami reed mat floor of a second-floor room.

The morning edition of a newspaper dated Feb. 20, 1984 was on a table nearby and a calendar, opened to the same month, hung on the wall, said the official, who refused to be identified.

The official would not say how the man died. Newspaper reports quoted police as saying that there were no signs of struggle, which led investigators to believe he died of an illness.

The man, identified only as former worker of the company that built the apartments, was in his mid-50s when he divorced his wife, left home and moved into the building in the early 1980s, the official said.

Police believe the man had been unable to repay bank loans and had stopped showing up for work, according to the newspaper reports.

But nobody noticed his death because the real estate agency managing the property went out of business after the building was completed in 1973 without ever having found renters, he said. The building had been unoccupied since it was completed.

The man's remains have been returned to his ex-wife, the official said.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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