Reggie the alligator, the renegade reptile who eluded capture for almost two years while living in a Los Angeles city park, may well have lost his freedom, but he has now gained a girlfriend.
Staff members at the Los Angeles Zoo call her Cajun Kate, and unless there's a mystery-lady gator at Lake Machado in Harbor City, she's probably Reggie's first ever female companion. Asked Sunday how Reggie was getting along with Cajun Kate, zoo spokesman Jason Jacobs said, "Good, very good."
It was probably better not to elaborate. The couple will be introduced to the public at a special unveiling Monday morning.
Zoo officials estimate that Reggie is about 20 years old, while Kate is 40. (Insert cougar joke here.)
Reggie has been the subject of near-paparazzi treatment since he was first spotted bobbing in Lake Machado in 2005. His owners, one of whom was a former Los Angeles Police Department officer, decided he had grown too large to keep as a pet, so they dropped him in the lake.
The two men who left him at the pond were arrested months after the act, but Reggie managed to evade and befuddle a constant parade of would-be gator wranglers before he was finally snared with a dog-catcher's pole in May 2007 and taken to the L.A. Zoo.
Reggie's taste for freedom was strong, however, and in August 2007 he busted out of his enclosure for a couple of hours.
Like some 7-foot-long reptilian ninja, Reggie apparently climbed over a chain-link fence at the back of his enclosure, then clambered over a series of brick ridges. He made it about 500 yards to a loading-dock area. After he was recaptured, his pen was modified to make it harder for the gator to escape, Jacobs said.
Reggie's life on the run, however, is fondly recalled by many Angelenos — even though the city ran up a $200,000 tab pursuing him. The chase has spawned children's books, T-shirts and other merchandise.
For Reggie, though, it's finally paid off where it counts — in the romance department.