SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 21 -- A young alligator who has apparently made San Francisco's Mountain Lake his home overjoyed a crowd of spectators Wednesday as he thwarted the efforts of a veteran Florida gator hunter. JimmieLong was flown to town Monday night by the San Francisco Chronicle in an effort to capture the animal, which has been observed by several people cruising the small, duck-filled lake nestled near the closed Presidio of San Francisco Army base.
But so far, Long's attempts to corral the gator have been fruitless. Meanwhile, the animal has quickly become a local favorite and the focal point of a lighthearted competition between the Chronicle and the rival San Francisco Examiner. On Tuesday, Examiner Executive Editor Phil Bronstein and reporter Dennis Opatrny donned wetsuits and jumped into the lake to mount their own 'rescue' of the gator. However, local authorities quickly intervened because no swimming is allowed in the lake. 'The real question is, what kind of political fix has gone in so the city of San Francisco allows this kind of person (a gator trapper) to go hunting for this animal?' Bronstein questioned. 'Will this innocent reptile be served to (San Francisco Mayor) Willie Brown at his Friday lunch at Le Central (a famed local restaurant)?' The Examiner has also held a name the gator contest with such entries as Purse Futura, Boots, Chewmanchew and Darth Gator. Officials believe someone once had the alligator as a pet and then let him go at the lake when he grew too large. By nature, alligators are not indigenous to northern California, and zoo officials say the lake gator probably cannot survive long in the wild.