NEWARK, N.J. - No, it wasn't just an alligator bag. Rather, a live alligator was captured inside the baggage hold of an airliner Monday after it escaped from a crate of four gators being shipped from Miami, officials said.
The alligator was a juvenile, 4-5 feet long, and remained inside a burlap bag with its mouth bound shut, said Tim Wagner, an American Airlines spokesman. He said he didn't know how much it weighed.
No one was reported hurt, and the alligator was placed back in its crate and claimed by its owners, Wagner said.
Authorities were looking into how the reptile got out of the box.
The gators flew into Newark Liberty International Airport on American Flight 776 from Miami, a Boeing 767, which arrived at 10:28 a.m.
"Upon arrival at Newark, when the cargo hold was opened, one of the alligators was outside of the crate," said Wagner. "Still in the burlap bag, still with his mouth bound properly. So they called the Port Authority, put the alligator back in the crate with its companions, and it has now been reunited with its owners."
"These were juvenile alligators, small alligators," Wagner added.
Tony Ciavolella, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport, said the Port Authority Police emergency services unit was called in. Officers did not wrestle the alligator or use a tranquilizer gun, he said, but rather used a closing-loop device to capture it.
Officers from the state Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife were called in, but were not needed, Ciavolella said.
Wagner would not release the owners' names. Neither he nor Ciavolella knew why the alligators were being transported. Their health certificates and other paperwork were in order, Wagner said.