Chicago police received unconfirmed reports on social media early Tuesday that a possible alligator was seen swimming in the Humboldt Park lagoon in the city’s busy West Side.
Several hours later, Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi confirmed that authorities spotted the gator and that a state reptile specialist put the alligator at somewhere between four to- five feet long.
Guglielmi said that an effort to “humanely” capture the animal would be made sometime Tuesday night. Authorities said they plan to relocate the gator to a zoo for “veterinary evaluation.”
Spokeswoman for Chicago Animal Care and Control Jenny Schlueter told FOX32 that the mysterious alligator may have been a pet that was released into the wild after getting too big.
A similar incident occurred in 2011 when two alligators were spotted just weeks apart in the Chicago River. Police said at the time that the animals were likely pets that had been released.
Alligators favor warm weather climates such as Florida but have been known to survive temporarily in the cold through a process similar to hibernation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.