Reporters, curious residents, and animal experts are staking out Humboldt Park lagoon to get a glimpse of an alligator that was spotted early on Tuesday.
The news spread quickly after Block Club Chicago first reported the multiple sightings, and since then has taken off on Twitter with hashtags like #GatorWatch and #HumboldtGator and now a fan account @humboldtgator.
Chicago Police confirmed that there is now a plan in place to safely capture the reptile and transport him to a local zoo. Helping to catch the animal, a man who calls himself “Alligator Bob” and is a member of Chicago Herpetological Society, told reporters that it might take a few days safely trap.
“It’s going to be scared out of his wits,” he said in an interview with media. “It’s not interested in people. So don’t worry about, don’t be nervous about it. There’s nothing here to be scared of.”
Some have speculated that the animal is likely a pet that someone dumped into the lagoon and could be anywhere from two to five feet long. Since the initial report, it has been spotted once late Tuesday night and midday Wednesday.
There have been a few instances of alligators found in the Chicago River and one in the Desplaines River, according to Dan Boehm, the curator of small mammals and reptiles at Lincoln Park Zoo. He agrees that the most likely scenario is that the animal was an illegal pet. People get a hold of a hatchling, which can be about 18-inches long, and then as it grows they realize its too much for them, he said.
It’s likely that the gator hasn’t been there long since the park is popular and filled with people, Boehm said. He emphasized that animal is probably scared and the best thing people can do is leave it alone. “It’s a bad idea to approach the animal and it would be really bad to feed it,” he said.