Crocodile welcomed into Australian pub by drinkers

DARWIN, Australia But being good hosts, they did the only polite thing and invited him inside.

The saltwater croc was just 2 feet long and more a curiosity than a threat to drinkers at the Noonamah Tavern on Sunday. The aggressive hunters can grow to more than 16 feet and have been known to attack people.

Barmaid Sarah Sparre said Thursday that three patrons spotted the creature outside the pub, grabbed it and brought it inside.

"You could say we were a bit surprised," Sparre said. "He was pretty complacent, easygoing. But we weren't going to test him out."

The three men taped up its mouth, held it up for a round of photos, then put it in a box near the bar.

Sparre said the croc may have escaped from a farm for the animals that was several miles away. Wildlife officials took the crocodile to the farm.

Noonamah boasts little more than a gas station and a bar on the main north-south highway through Australia, about 25 miles from the Northern Territory capital of Darwin.

Saltwater crocodiles, once hunted to near extinction by skinners, have flourished in Australia's tropical north since they became a protected species in the 1970s.

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