A 3-foot-long crocodile, described as "very aggressive," was turned over Tuesday to the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Following up on an anonymous call, control officers from the Huntington Animal Shelter at around 11 a.m. found the creature in an office building parking lot on Melville Park Road, Melville, said Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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The crocodile was inside an open-top cardboard box, from which it could have escaped, he said. Shelter officers, including director Jerry Mosca, had to lasso the creature and tape its mouth shut, Gross said.

Because possessing a caiman, crocodile or alligator is illegal in New York State, a joint investigation into who put the creature in the parking lot is to be conducted by the SPCA and state Department of Environmental Conservation, Gross said.

Had the owner called and volunteered to surrender the creature, the person most likely would have received amnesty, Gross said. But in this case, the person faces misdemeanor charges of animal abandonment and endangering the public with a wild animal.

The creature, around 3 years old, appears to be well nourished and in good condition, Gross said. It is to be handed over to an area facility licensed to care for reptiles, he said, and is to play a role in training and educational presentations.

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Anyone with information can contact the SPCA anonymously at 631-382-7722. A $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the person's arrest and conviction, Gross said.