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Alligator with police officer in Florida outside school Outside Forest Lakes Elementary School, a deputy finds a safe perch from which to rope the stray gator. (Pinellas County Sheriff's Office)

Class Pet?

Yesterday, a 7 1/2-foot gator walked onto an elementary school campus in Florida

By Zach Jones | null null , null
<br />Schools in these three Florida towns had gators for guests in the past three months.<br /><br />(Jim McMahon)<br />

Schools in these three Florida towns had gators for guests in the past three months.

(Jim McMahon)

Monday was an odd day at Forest Lakes Elementary School in Oldsmar, Florida. That morning, crossing guard Denise Leone spotted something unusual making its way to class. This was no ordinary fifth-grader. This was an alligator.

Leone called the police. But the 7 1/2-foot alligator was already making its way down the sidewalk to the street where kids were walking to school.

"Unfortunately, the gator did not want to wait," the sheriff's office later reported. Deputies quickly came to the scene and placed the alligator in handcuffs until representatives from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission arrived to help.

It's the third gator to crawl around a Florida school in the past three months. In August, an alligator even settled into Ridgecrest Elementary School's cafeteria before walking into the boys' bathroom. Authorities did not report whether it used the facilities.

Florida has had so many gator sightings that the state has set up the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program. Handlers from the program are trained to safely transport bothersome gators from busy areas inhabited by people.

It has been a strange summer for America's wildlife. In Massachusetts, rare freshwater jellyfish swarmed in Walden Pond. In a Miami zoo, a tiger escaped from its cage immediately after watching a small ape do the same. A real bear stole a teddy bear from a New Hampshire house—after drinking out of a fish bowl, of course.

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