Fabiola Santiago

Fabiola Santiago: Pancho the croc is gone, but not before making a political statement with his chomp

In life as in death, the bold Coral Gables croc fought his way bravely into the big time.

Chomp. Chomp.

After he bit a young couple swimming in his turf, he became breaking news fodder — more popular than the Bieber on probation, if only for an instant of summer glory.

Pancho, beloved by those pesky liberals in Gables by the Sea and beyond, got caught on Friday morning.

He died in the struggle and was buried in an undisclosed location because, in case you don’t remember or just got here, we’re fond of never-ending pilgrimages to magical places like the Little Havana tree with bark in the shape of the virgin’s cape and the Hialeah house of the stigmata.

RIP, wherever your 300 pounds lay, “Florida’s most wanted crocodile.”

Some didn’t like your bite, but we sure loved your chutzpah.

We thought Florida’s fauna was finally fighting back — reclaiming swampy territory from the invading Homo sapiens who haven’t yet spotted a track of land they didn’t want to pave over, pressure clean and seal.

Who could blame a reptile for wanting to be the one to take a bite out of a human?

Ours being a species that isn’t satisfied with already living in a Metropolis of Cement, we now want to build on submerged lands, raise the tallest flag, add a 30th museum and develop floating villas on a lake.

Building “ Amillarah Private Islands” in a lake in North Miami Beach is our Danish answer to rising seas — true story, Pancho — and the son of Miami-Dade’s mayor has been hired to make it happen. Had you played your cards right and kept a low profile in the City Beautiful, you could’ve gotten a gig there, enforcing the “private” label of another exclusive address.

Chomp. Chomp.

But you were ahead of your time, an endangered species, a babe of sweet Stiltsville, South Florida’s original community on water, homes made of sturdy wood anchored out there in the seas, battling man and the elements like a poem.

So hippie, so yesterday.

Miami’s upcoming futuristic erection, SkyRise, is made of steel (no Viagra, I think) and approved by voters Tuesday in exchange for a $10 million check up-front. Tourists will climb it, plunge from it, and maybe in a big room-with-a-view people are whispering about (read, future casino), the deal-makers will make back in a jiffy the palsy figure paid to a city that sells itself as cheap as an old Biscayne Boulevard hooker.

Who cares, right? Not Miami voters. It was a better day to line up for freebies at IKEA than at the polls to make a decision on something as complicated as the future.

But enjoy the Labor Day weekend, the last hurray to summer. I’m sure Panchito would have wanted us to get a last swim in.

Just wade mindfully.

I hear Penny, the pesky white shark from other oceans, has been haunting the Gulf coast. The Miami manatees who liked to mate on Biscayne Bay heard about the phallic hairpin and they’re mad as a sweet sea cow can get. And from Miami to Orlando, all the native species — coastal and inland — are in an uproar about All Aboard Florida trains traipsing through their quaint towns, rustling the leaves and rattling the silence.

The wild is fighting back — watch the barbecue, too.