Police officers were yesterday hunting a ‘dangerous predator’ after they received a second sighting – of a six foot CROCODILE on the loose.
Avon and Somerset police began a search on Monday after a bus driver flagged down an officer claiming to have spotted the large reptile under a bridge.
Officers searched for the animal but were unable to find any trace of the predator in under Coronation Bridge, which crosses the the River Avon close to Bristol city centre.
The police quickly established that Bristol Zoo, which is two miles away from where the ‘croc’ was spotted, was not missing any animals.
Officers – in full riot gear – launched a second hunt yesterday after a second sighting was reported in the city.
A bus driver reported spotting ‘a six foot crocodile’ under a bridge in Bedminster, Bristol, on Monday morning.
Police confirmed they had received a second call from a member of the public who claimed to seen a crocodile around the Eastville Park / floating harbour system at Snuff Mills, Bristol, approximately three miles from the initial sighting.
Avon and Somerset Fishponds tweeted: “We have seen the reports & searching @EastvillePark & @snuffmills in full riot gear as we speak #croc.”
Avon and Somerset police Chief Constable Nick Gargan took to twitter on Monday to tell his followers about the first sighting.
He said: “One of our officers was flagged down by a bus driver, claiming to have seen a 6ft crocodile under Coronation Bridge. We can’t find it.”
A spokesperson for the force said: “We were called at 10:28am on Monday, February 3, to reports of a crocodile sighted on Bedminster Bridge.
“We checked with Bristol Zoo and we were able to establish that they had not lost a crocodile.
“We carried out a search of the area but found no trace of the reptile.
“Obviously if any other sightings are reported we will investigate further.”
Andy Carbin, Bristol Zoo’s senior reptile and amphibian keeper, said that though it was unlikely there was a crocodile on the loose it was not impossible.
He said: “I think it is pretty unlikely that there is a crocodile. If there was it would be pretty cold by now. Most crocodile species are tropical.
“I guess it would have had to be pretty big to have been spotted from the bridge. Generally they just poke their head up out of the water – just their eyes and their snout.
“This time of year crocodiles are pretty dormant and hibernating, rather than swimming around – unless it had just been dumped there.
“If it was in the water to be honest with you it would eat anything that it came across – rats, ducks, invertebrates.”
* It is not the first time people have reported spotting a large reptile roaming UK waterways.
In 2008 a man said he saw a metre-long crocodile in a lake in the Morfa area of Swansea, Wales, triggering a search by the RSPCA and the police.
Stephen Jenkins, from Pontrhydyfen, said: “I was walking my dog and me being a fisherman and being nosy near water – I was having a look and I could see something moving in the water.
“I thought at first it was a fish or something or a log – but there was no wind or anything. But I could see the ripples coming off this. I had a closer look and it was about four metres from me.
“I could see the legs and the nose and the tail and everything. It just swam down into the deep end, it’s eyes were just on top of the water as it was moving the eyes were coming towards me.”
Just over 12 months ago Richard Smith, a pensioner from Reading, also claimed to have seen a crocodile swimming in the Thames.
He said: “I was cycling on my own and I saw what I thought was a bough of a tree with four stubby branches on it close in to the bank.
“As I got closer I saw it was a crocodile. It was about 4ft long. It had a 2ft tail and 2ft body.
“I got off my bike and ran back to where it was, but it had gone.”