Zoo officials say thieves who stole an alligator called Mr Cranky Pants released him again after discovering how moody he can get.

The four-year-old alligator was snatched from a reptile park north of Sydney over the weekend, but was later spotted in a nearby creek.

Al Mucci, of the Australian Reptile Park in Somersby, said: "Mr Cranky Pants is a cranky pants, he gets moody and so they probably messed with the wrong alligator and dumped him."

The culprits had scaled two barbed-wire fences and climbed into an alligator pit to steal Mr Cranky Pants