I found this story in The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, July 24, 1880 (Issue 858). It reads:
“Some six weeks ago a lively young crocodile contrived, one night, to effect its escape from Josepha Choikowa’s travelling menagerie . . . and all the efforts made to discover its hiding-place in the neighbouring brooks and ponds proving fruitless, its proprietress after three days’ search gave it up as irretrievably lost, and departed on her further professional rounds.
“A month later the smith of Salosu [? digital copy of paper unclear], a village not far . . . was strolling home towards evening through the rain, when he suddenly espied lying, in a huge puddle on the high road, what he took to be a drunken man, with the charitable intentions of extricating the recumbent one from so miry a bed, he perceived to his astonishment that the object of his solicitude was the missing crocodile.
“Nothing daunted, he fastened a rope round the . . . scaly body behind its shoulders and led it along until he met a cart, into which, with the assistance of the driver, he managed to lift it. The crocodile made no resistance, but followed its captor as meekly as though it had been a tame dog tied to a string. On subsequent examination it was found to have increased in size and weight during its spell of liberty, and to be, for a crocodile, in excellent health and spirits. What it was fed upon while roaming about the country, and how it had kept out of the cold during the chilly nights of May and June, are still mysteries to its owner, who has joyfully recovered possession of her truant.