Sure, we’ve known about the NYC coyote population or the dolphins occasionally seen swimming in one of our rivers, but alligators? This is New York, not your grandparents summer home in Florida!
But according to ABC News, that didn’t stop a 4-foot-long alligator from finding its way into a lake at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. The reptile was spotted on Sunday morning by park maintenance staff. There is still no clear understanding of how it got there in the first place, but sources presume it had been kept as a pet by someone who later abandoned it.
Usually accustomed to warmer climates in the southeastern regions of the United States, the alligator was “very lethargic and possibly cold shocked since it is native to warm, tropical climates,” explained the parks department when recovering the animal from the lake.
“In addition to the potential danger to park goers this could have caused, releasing non-indigenous animals or unwanted pets can lead to the elimination of native species and unhealthy water quality,” said the parks department.
Fortunately, no harm was brought to anyone by the alligator and it has since been brought to the Bronx Zoo.
To rehabilitate the alligator, veterinarians and animal care staff worked to bring its temperature up and began feeding it nutrients through a tube, due to the animal’s unresponsiveness to food. Upon arriving at the zoo the alligator weighed about 15 pounds, which is about 20 pounds underweight for the size of the animal. Experts believe it to be around 5-6 years old.
Radiographs suggest that the alligator has ingested a bathtub stopper. However, it is in too poor of a condition for it to be removed at this time. “The tragedy of this situation is a reminder that wild animals do not make good pets and that responsible pet ownership means making choices that will not negatively impact an individual animal or the environment.”