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Keyser Family’s Lost Crocodile Found After Two Months

August 14, 1987

KEYSER, W.Va. (AP) _ Wallet the crocodile is back, but his homecoming was not exactly a happy occasion.

Don Keckley, a dance studio operator who owns the two-foot-long crocodile, said Friday that he banished Wallet because he feared for his children’s safety.

The Keckleys adopted Wallet from a student whose mother ″had a houseful of pets and didn’t want it any more,″ Keckley said.

But Wallet disappeared in June, and weeks of searching failed to turn up any trace of the reptile.

″I thought somebody had caught him and taken him home,″ Keckley said.

On Thursday, a friend of the Keckleys spotted a noticably thinner Wallet sticking his snout out from under a grate beside the Keckley Dance Studio.

″He was under our studio for two months,″ Keckley said.

The croc was trapped and returned to his cage in the Keckley home, where Keckley’s wife, Brenda, welcomed him with a large piece of Italian sausage.

However, Keckley said that he has decided that owning a toothy reptile wasn’t such a good idea.

″He’s quite capable of taking off fingers,″ said Keckley, who has four young sons. ″We’re getting rid of him before he does.″

The family found Jim Athey, an elementary school science teacher, to take over custody.

Athey plans to add Wallet to his collection of live reptiles at Keyser Primary School, Keckley said.

However, Wallet will not be forgotten at Keckley Dance Studio.

Keckley said he intends to develop and name a dance after the wandering Wallet - ″The Crocodile Waltz.″

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