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Gecko's trip ends with safe return

Stolen months ago from a Del. center, the animal had been thought dead.

BEAR, Del. - A gecko stolen months ago from a Delaware wildlife rescue center and presumed dead is back home.

The six-inch male African fat-tailed gecko was stolen in July from the Delaware Wildlife Rehabilitators Association in Bear. Cash from the donation box was also taken.

A woman who wanted to get rid of the gecko recently dropped it off at a pet shop, where staffers recognized it, the Wilmington News Journal reported.

Given the specific care the gecko needs, wildlife rehabilitator Hilary Taylor said, she was concerned that it would die.

"The odds of him turning up again were one in a million or less," Taylor said Tuesday. "It's a Christmas miracle."

Taylor said the nameless gecko seemed right at home when she returned it to the habitat in her office.

"Ordinarily, when you put them in, they would sniff around, but not him - he went straight into his little house," she said.

After the theft, people sent donations to the group, and Taylor said she used the money for improvements, including a security system.

Taylor said she told police to drop the case.

Police said that the case had been closed without an arrest, but that if anyone came forward, police would review possible charges with the Attorney General's Office.

Visitors to the rehabilitation center are allowed to pet and hold the brown-banded gecko, which has a fat tail with markings that resemble a second head, and it made an excellent ambassador at the center, Taylor said.

"That's why I was so devastated to lose him," she said.