Chicago police confirm alligator in city park lagoon

Chicago police confirm alligator in city park lagoon

July 10, 2019– Mary Greeley News – Chicago police investigators have cracked the case: A 4-5-foot alligator is living in a lagoon at one of the city’s most popular parks.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says Tuesday that investigators went to Humboldt Park Lagoon on the city’s West Side and confirmed that the unusual resident is there as reported on social media.

Chicago police were called to the 1400 block of North Humboldt Drive about 12:15 p.m. after someone called 911 “saying they saw a Facebook post saying there is an alligator in the lagoon area,” said Chicago police spokeswoman Karie James.

Officials couldn’t say how the creature got there.

Chicago police confirm alligator in city park lagoon

City officials say alligator traps are being placed around the lagoon in hopes the animal will swim into one and be safely removed.

Guglielmi says the animal was expected to be trapped “and relocated to a zoo for veterinary evaluation.”

Alligators favor warm weather climates such as Florida but have been known to survive temporarily in the cold through a process similar to hibernation.

Chicago police confirm alligator in city park lagoon

Earlier, as Officer Michelle Tannehill, a police spokeswoman, gave a statement about 3:30 p.m. explaining that the call was unconfirmed, witnesses watching the water from the nearby boathouse screamed, “It’s there, I see the alligator!”

Immediately, a volunteer animal expert known as “Alligator Bob,” who had searched for the animal without success earlier, hopped back in his canoe and paddled to the edge of the lagoon. Alligator Bob is a fixture of exotic animal searches in Chicago and often helps the city’s animal control staff capture them.

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A crowd gathered as Alligator Bob sat in his canoe with a fishing line dangling out the back, paddling slowly around an area full of lily pads where the animal was believed to be hiding.

Animal control officials had set up bait traps, and state conservation officials also were at the scene.

Chicago police confirm alligator in city park lagoon

A few people, including photographer Rencie Horst-Ruiz, took to social media to say they had seen the animal. At least one video journalist at the scene Tuesday afternoon said the animal had been spotted through a zoom lens.

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Charlie Serrano, a lifelong resident of Humboldt Park, speculated that the animal might have been put in the lagoon by someone who owned it illegally, after it grew too big for them to take care of.

“This place is historical for people throwing a whole bunch of things in the lagoon,” he said.

On runs around the lagoon, Serrano has seen 18-inch turtles and goldfish or carp more than a foot long, which he says most likely were thrown into the lake by owners who grew tired of them.

Chicago police confirm alligator in city park lagoon

This isn’t the first alligator found in the Chicago area. Last year, a kayaker found an abandoned alligator near Waukegan. And other exotic animals have been found in area waterways over the years.

In 2010, Alligator Bob helped capture an alligator in the North Branch of the Chicago River near Belmont Avenue. A 2008 capture in the South Branch of the river was billed at the time as the first time an alligator was found in the river. But a Tribune article from 1902 claimed one was found that July near what’s now Roosevelt Road.

In 1953, two boys from Wheeling found an alligator in the Des Plaines River while they were turtle hunting, according to reports from the time, including in the Tribune.

Last month, Chicago Park District officials put up signs at the lagoon, warning people to stay out of the water because of potentially toxic blue-green algae.

Now the warning should be for alligators.

Mary Greeley News

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