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An American tourist was caught red-handed smuggling a live rare albino alligator on a flight from Germany to Singapore.

The metre-long reptile was discovered by astonished baggage inspectors at Munich International Airport, Bavaria, last month.

X-ray images revealed a white gator stuffed into a cramped suitcase, curled up. Authorities removed the creature from the case to find it almost completely wrapped in cling film with just a tiny hole so it could breathe through its nostrils.

A criminal case was opened against the 42-year-old “businessman” for allegedly violating animal welfare laws, and the alligator was seized and taken to a reptile sanctuary in Munich.

White alligators are reportedly bought by customers for up to 75,000 Euros (£65,700) in Asia, according to German media.

In Germany it is reported that it is illegal to trade in wild animals, to bring animal species into the country or to take animals out of it without a permit.

And in Singapore, offenders can face up to two years in prison and a $50,000 (£44,000) fine for illegal wildlife trade.

But the endangered species act is due to be amended, which means that offenders will face bigger penalties, with the maximum jail term increasing from two years to six. The fine will also go up to £89,000 ($100,000) per species.

In a statement, Munich Main Customs Office said: “Customs officers confiscated a live albino alligator on 25th September 2022 at Munich Airport.

“While checking luggage, security check employees discovered an unusual X-ray image.

“They immediately informed customs officers, who, when opening the suitcase, found a live white alligator wrapped in cling film. Together with a veterinarian, the customs officers freed the animal and took over first aid.

“Before departing for Singapore, the passenger was located by customs officials. The officials initiated proceedings against the 42-year-old businessman.

“The Munich Customs Investigation Office took over further investigations.

“The animal is currently in the sanctuary for reptiles and will continue to be cared for there.”

Myth has it that if you look into the eyes of an albino alligator it will bring you good luck.