By Barbara Smith
CHICAGO (Reuters) – An elusive alligator residing in a Chicago lagoon was caught early on Tuesday after the reptile, thought to be an abandoned pet, captivated locals for nearly a week.
The alligator, called “Chance the Snapper” after Chicago-born hip-hop artist Chance the Rapper, is a 5-foot-3 male who appeared to be “very healthy,” said Kelley Gandurski, executive director for Chicago Animal Care and Control.
Chicago authorities brought in Frank Robb, an expert from Florida with nearly 24 years experience capturing reptiles, to stake out the animal in Humboldt Park Lagoon on Chicago’s West Side after it eluded a volunteer trapper.
Robb, who arrived on Sunday evening, caught the alligator around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
The alligator “needed quiet, and he needed the park to be closed off,” Robb said at a news conference. Robb later held up the animal with its mouth taped shut. Curious locals had been swarming to the lagoon in hopes of catching a glimpse of the unusual creature.
American alligators normally live in freshwater wetlands and marshes in the Southeastern United States – not in the northern Midwest.
Robb said he took eight laps around the lagoon and was able to track down “Chance” soon thereafter. The reptile was caught using a small hook while observing the lily pads.
It is unclear where the alligator, which authorities have said is likely 5 to 10 years old, will reside next, though police previously said it would go to a zoo or animal rescue.
Gandurski took the opportunity to share some advice.
“These types of animals don’t make good pets,” she said. “Come and adopt a cat or a dog from a shelter … there is so much need.”
(Reporting by Barbara Smith; editing by Caroline Stauffer and Leslie Adler)