MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (AP) — A four-foot (1.2-meter) alligator chewed its way out of a shipping carton before a postal worker tossed it into a hamper and called animal control officers.

Employees were sorting mail Friday when they noticed the alligator chewing its way out of an Express Mail box, said JoAnne Blackburn, a Postal Service spokeswoman.

Workers tried to tape the box closed, but the alligator bit it open.

“The nose … was sticking out with its teeth hanging out,” said postal employee Jennifer Hejdak. She said a co-worker picked it up by its tail and threw it in a hamper.

The alligator will remain at a shelter for a week before being shipped to a northern Illinois sanctuary, said Len Selkurt, executive director of the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control. The sanctuary owner will then take it to Florida, he said.

Alligators longer than 20 inches (50.8 centimeters) are not allowed to be sent through the mail, and officials said the shipment from Milwaukee to Colorado was under review.