first_imgReggie was not happy. “He was thrashing and hissing,” said Fred Dowell, nicknamed the “alligator whisperer” by Councilwoman Janice Hahn because he probably saw more of Reggie in the past two years than anyone else. Within minutes, 13 city firefighters received the call to assist and joined the pile-up to restrain the surprised, thrashing animal. Right behind them was Hahn, who coincidentally was in a meeting about the alligator with Recchio and fire officials at her San Pedro office, just minutes away. “We jumped in our cars as fast as we could” when the call came in from the park, Hahn said. At Machado Lake, Hahn finally got her long-awaited formal introduction to Reggie, daring even to pet the hissing reptile ever so briefly. Tied up and pulled onto a plastic skid by park rangers and firefighters, the protesting alligator was carried to a waiting animal control truck and driven, caravan-style with some of his capturers, north in an hourlong trek to the zoo. The lightning-fast capture ended a story that had turned legendary in Harbor City – the story of the seemingly invincible alligator that lurked beneath the lake’s waters, often unseen, and seemed destined to never be caught. News of his capture spread quickly as Reggie fans, television cameras and reporters descended on Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park. The Reggie caravan to the zoo was given all the pomp of a presidential motorcade, with sirens wailing and lights blaring – and, of course, this being L.A., live television coverage from overhead. “It was unbelievable,” Hahn said. “We had helicopters following us.” The alligator will remain in quarantine at the zoo, where veterinarians will examine him. Or her. Although Reggie has been referred to as “he,” the gator’s sex is one of many questions expected to finally be answered in the coming days. A zoo official referred to Reggie’s new home as akin to Club Med, where he will be fed chicken, fish and other meats. “He looked very healthy,” Hahn said. “He looked good.It was actually very emotional to be that close to him. I was petting him and saying good-bye.” Los Angeles fire Capt. Lafayette Carter, struggling to maintain a serious tone as he recounted the call that came into Station 85, said he’d just returned from a paramedic run when he was summoned to respond to “an alligator.” Minutes later, the Habor City captain found himself, strangely enough, sitting on an alligator’s swinging tail. Assistant Fire Chief Lou Roupoli helped restrain the gator. He estimated Reggie weighed 120 to 140 pounds. Freelance photographer Efrain Iniguez of Wilmington was in the park, ready to take some more shots of Reggie in the lake, when the capture occurred. “(Reggie) was fighting. He didn’t want to get caught,” Iniguez said. Reggie was first spotted on Aug. 12, 2005, and became an instant celebrity as journalists and residents watched as a succession of wranglers from Colorado and Florida attempted to capture the gator. Before he was killed last year in an underwater accident, “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin promised to be the next in line. Reggie disappeared from view for all of 2006, leading some to speculate that he’d died. But when the alligator suddenly resurfaced last month, Irwin’s crew from Australia said they’d come in July to follow through on Irwin’s personal promise made to Hahn. Now that he’s in custody, many would like to see Reggie kept at the zoo. “They should stamp him `Property of Harbor City,”‘ said Leroy Martinez of Harbor City, suggesting that residents will charter a bus to visit Reggie once he’s on exhibit.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Officially, the gator known as Reggie measured in at 6 1/2 feet long and appeared to be healthy with no obvious cuts or bruises, according to a Los Angeles Zoo official. That pronouncement ended what was a remarkable afternoon, the day the celebrity gator was finally nabbed. It all began when a pair of park workers spotted Reggie sunning himself on the southern shore of Machado Lake – with a partially eaten chicken leg lying nearby. He appeared to be settling in for a peaceful afternoon, conveniently wedged in behind a chain-link fence out of public view. The two workers decided to seize the moment. Soon joined by Ian Recchio of the Los Angeles Zoo, who was summoned from a meeting in San Pedro, they crept up from behind – and pounced. Holding the panicked reptile down, the three managed to get a loop around Reggie’s neck and taped his mouth shut with duct tape. Life was getting good for Reggie the alligator. The scaly, long abandoned pet had basked in his own legend on the shores of Machado Lake for nearly two years, eluding one professional gator wrangler after another. But about 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Reggie’s luck simply ran out. When the storied gator was finally captured by a team of quick-thinking park rangers, firefighters and a zoo worker, it all ended remarkably easily, and within about 20 minutes. last_img