The Metro reports,
Pope Benedict XVI has sent a special gift to the people of Cuba ahead of his papal visit – one of their missing crocodiles.
The animal-loving pontiff returned the 60cm (2ft) croc to its native country after it had been smuggled out by an Italian tourist.
The endangered creature was seized from the thief’s kitchen by wildlife experts, christened Benedictus and presented to the Catholic leader.
Vatican officials said the Pope was keen on the idea of sending it as a symbol of friendship prior to his three-day visit to the island later this month.
Benedictus was given a send off at Rome Zoo where he was blessed by the Pope’s chief of staff Monsignor Giovanni Angelo Becciu.
He said the gesture was ‘highly significant’ – relations have not always been smooth between the Vatican and the Communist government led by former dictator Fidel Castro’s brother Raul.
The croc was only a few days old when it was hidden in a suitcase by a 64-year-old businessman and taken back to his home in Cremona.Monsignor Becciu says that sending the croc to Cuba was "highly significant" and he is right. You know why? Because there is now a deadly reptilian secret agent of Catholicism in the heart of Communist Cuba. If Benedict XVI doesn't convert the Castros, Benedictus can eat them.
In fact, he may be lucky it’s no longer in his kitchen. ‘It can grow to more than twice its current size and can be aggressive and quite dangerous,’ said a spokesman for Rome Zoo.