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Crocodile found wandering in N. California shopping center

Panera Bread Company

Authorities in the Northern California town of Roseville responded to a wild call Wednesday after a 4-foot crocodile was found wandering around in a suburban shopping center.

Its mouth taped shut, the stray reptile was apparently abandoned in front of a pet store near a TJ Maxx parking lot in Roseville, said police Sgt. Kelby Newton.

The Nile crocodile had been left in a makeshift cage — a gray plastic tub taped shut with duct tape — but escaped, Newton said. Next to it was a note that instructed its finder to “call rescue.”

The crocodile wandered past a Panera Bread restaurant and a pizza joint before stopping at a local runner's store.

Police called in local animal control officers, who lassoed the croc with a  tool typically used to catch dogs. The feisty reptile was not happy to be cornered, twisting and turning as the officer struggled to subdue it.

Eventually the crocodile was put in a proper cage and turned over to California fish and game officials, who will help transfer it to a local wildlife research organization, Newton said.

He noted that it is illegal to own a crocodile in California, not to mention dangerous.

“It was very quick, it’s reflexes are fast and they’re very powerful animals,” he said.

Roseville is just north of Sacramento near Folsom Lake State Recreation Area.

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christine.maiduc@latimes.com

Twitter: @cmaiduc

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