Later alligator: Chicago wants scaly resident out of local lagoon

CHICAGO (Reuters) – An alligator has taken up residence in a Chicago lagoon, surprising locals after a winter of polar temperatures in the third-largest U.S. city.

Police confirmed the reptile had been spotted in Humboldt Park Lagoon, located on Chicago’s west side, on Tuesday. It was still eluding capture on Wednesday despite pledges from local officials to trap it.

“We’ve independently confirmed the alligator,” said Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi on Twitter.

Authorities aim to have the animal, estimated to be four to five feet (1.2-1.5 meters) long, humanely trapped and relocated to a zoo for veterinary evaluation, Guglielmi said.

Temperatures in Chicago on Wednesday were hovering in the mid-90s Fahrenheit (mid-30s Celsius), in the range when alligators are most active, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Officials warned residents against attempting to capture the alligator on their own and said they had sent out an expert known as “Alligator Bob” to snag the gator.

Local media described Alligator Bob as a volunteer who declines to have his full name used. He works with Chicago officials to capture exotic animals, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“Alligator Bob is the hero we all deserve right now. Give him space and let him humanely catch our new friend,” the 14th District Police Department said on Wednesday in response to several Twitter offers of help.

American alligators normally live in freshwater wetlands and marshes in the Southeastern United States.

While it was unclear how the alligator got to Humboldt Park, the department warned residents against keeping baby reptiles as pets, pointing out that they could pose a danger when they grow up.

Reporting by Barbara Smith; Editing by Caroline Stauffer and Sandra Maler

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