This is the shocking moment shoppers found a massive 4ft lizard in a shopping centre - and dragged it out by the tail

·2-min read

This is the shocking moment shoppers found a massive 4ft lizard in a shopping centre - and dragged it out by the tail.

Chantal Wharton, 40, was dining in the food court when she looked down and saw a giant monitor lizard next to her foot.

It had sneaked into the Smithfield Shopping Centre undetected - despite its huge size - before running through the eatery and into a supermarket.

Thankfully a fellow shopper - who also works as a wildlife tour guide - was nearby to chase it down.

A video shows him capturing the goanna - a monitor lizard - and pulling it outside, while trying to keep its jaws away from his toes, in Cairns, Queensland, Australia.

Service advisor Chantal, from Kewarra Beach, Cairns, said: "I was leaving an Asian restaurant and in the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a creature. 

"I looked up to realise that I was about to come head to head with a decent sized goanna, about a metre from my foot.

"Initially I think the goanna and I startled each other - we both froze for a couple a seconds. I think he was simply waiting for me to get out of his way.

"Not far behind the goanna, I saw a man and realised that he was trying to catch him, so I stepped to the left behind a bush as there was no way I was going to get too close to this lizard.

"I tried to warn a couple of people sitting at the tables of the Asian restaurant, but couldn't talk much from shock. 

"I locked eyes with one man dining and quickly warned him. He saw the goanna and freaked out - I think he was ready to jump on his chair!"

The rescue happened near the food court last Thursday evening [March 4].

Shopper James Boettcher, who works at FNQ Nature Tours when he's not wrangling with goannas, was the one to capture it.

Goannas can cause serious injury when disturbed as Chantal discovered when it started to swipe at James as he carried it out into the car park.

The video ends with the lizard safely outside, and Chantal watched on as James directed the goanna into a bag and carried it out of the car park.

James released the lizard before returning to finish his lunch.

Since last week's antics, Chantal and James have been in touch on Facebook and a new friendship has blossomed from their chance encounter.

Chantal added: "I call him the next Steve Irwin! It would be great to have more around like him."