Nile Crocodile Abandoned at Suburban Shopping Center

It's not every day that a Nile Crocodile is found wandering around a TJ Maxx shopping center in the middle of suburbia.

But that's what happened on Wednesday about 9 a.m. when an abandoned four-foot croc was crawling around a Roseville shopping center near Sacramento.

Police Sgt. Kelby Newton told NBC Bay Area that it looks like the amphibian's guardian was trying to dump his pet at The Serpentarium on Douglas Boulevard, which has a sanctuary for certain type of reptiles.

Owning such an alligator is illegal. Nile Crocs are native to Sub-Saharan Africa, are aggressive predators and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.

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Shoppers at the TJ Maxx Plaza discovered this Nile Croc all by itself, with duct tape wrapped around its mouth. Newton said a Rubbermaid box, the kind you store Christmas ornaments in, was found nearby - and the duct tape on the container was broken.

"The croc must have popped the lid off," he said.

Roseville Animal Control Officer John Bennett ended up lassoeing "the critter," which was not happy about getting into a cage.

"That thing was real quick and agile," Bennett said.

And now, the croc is in the hands of the California State Fish and Wildlife wardens, who will likely donate it the animal to a wildlife or educational organization.

This was the first time a crocodile was seen wandering about Roseville, and the first time one needed to be lassoed off the streets.

"Totally the first time," Kelby said.

But he added that despite the initial scare for TJ Maxx shoppers, the situation was quickly and safely remedied.

"A lot of people were relieved," he said, "when they saw the duct tape on its mouth."

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