Authorities are still on the lookout for a nearly 5-foot-long gator that was discovered in Chicago's Humboldt Park lagoon on Tuesday

By Matt McNulty
July 10, 2019 12:43 PM
Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS/Sipa USA

Authorities are searching for a nearly 5-foot-long alligator that has made its home in a lagoon at Chicago’s Humboldt Park.

Visitors spotted the wild animal peeking its head above the water at the park, located in Chicago’s West Side, on Tuesday and Chicago police say they began investigating unconfirmed reports on social media about the alligator shortly after these initial sightings, according to Fox News.

Following these investigations, Anthony Guglielmi, the chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department, confirmed to the press and public that an alligator was indeed in the Humboldt Park lagoon. Officer Guglielmi said a state reptile specialist had been called in to help, and estimated that the loose Chicago gator was between four and five feet long.

It’s still unclear how the animal found its way into the Chicago lagoon, but, Chicago Animal Care and Control reports, the alligator is not native to the region and was most likely kept as a pet before being released into the water.

“If this is a pet alligator, it was probably kept in an aquarium and released” into the lagoon, Jenny Schlueter, a spokesperson for Chicago Animal Care and Control, told FOX 32.

It “will probably be scared and try to hide,” she added.

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“They could be sitting right here where this little piece of wood is floating and we wouldn’t even know it,” said Chicago Herpetological Society’s ‘Alligator Bob.’ “He could just suddenly sink down and that’s what he’s been doing. He pops up, we see him, and then he sinks down.”

Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS/Sipa USA

“It’s only been in here a day or two at the most,” ‘Alligator Bob’ continued. “After he’s been here a week or so, he’s gonna go exploring all over, looking for a place to bask. He’s gonna be looking for new food. He’s gonna be looking for a better place to sleep.”

Guglielmi assured the public that the gator will be “humanely” captured before moving the animal to a nearby zoo for a “veterinary evaluation,” according to Fox News.

As of Wednesday morning, the wild animal was still at large in the park, despite humane bait traps filled with fish and chicken set up throughout the lagoon.

Strangely enough, this isn’t the first alligator to grace Chicago waters. Last year, a 4-foot-long gator was removed from Lake Michigan with its mouth taped shut. And back in 2011, two gators were found swimming in the Chicago River within the same month, with one measuring 3-feet-long and a smaller alligator discovered a few weeks prior, FOX 32 reports.

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Visitors to the Humboldt Park lagoon are being asked to keep a distance from the water until authorities rescue the gator. Police are investigating who released the wild animal into the lagoon as well, according to ABC 7 Chicago. Authorities tell the outlet that it is a misdemeanor to own a pet alligator in Illinois, and that it is also illegal to release a pet in a public park or area.

The investigation into the alligator’s whereabouts and who potentially released him into the lagoon are still ongoing, according to authorities.

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