An alligator was found roaming around Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, Chicago Police said Sunday. The reptile was discovered under an escalator by an traveler and was subsequently captured by placing a trash can over it.
The Associated Press reported (via Yahoo News) Nov. 3 that a young alligator measuring about a foot long (the Chicago Tribune wrote that it was about 2 feet long) was discovered at O'Hare's Terminal 3, police spokesman Jose Estrada stated. A quick-thinking police officer kept the small reptile from going anywhere by trapping it beneath a trash can.
"We don't know where it came from or how long it'd been residing in the airport facilities," Estrada said. "It's one of those random incidents."
The Tribune noted that the small gator was first discovered by a traveler going down the escalator. The traveler notified a nearby custodian, who called in the police. The alligator, described as "lethargic," was soon placed in a box and was later transferred into the care of the Chicago Herpetological Society.
But not before officers gave him the name "Allie."
"It was in pretty bad shape," Society president Jason Hood told the AP. "We're trying to get it healthy and find a place for it."
Hood stated that the alligator would likely be transferred to an alligator farm for further care.
A spokesman from the Herpetological Society told the Tribune that the reptile was an American alligator, approximately three years of age. It was suffering from a metabolic bone deficiency most likely caused by the lack of enough calcium in its diet for an extended time.
It is unknown how long the alligator was loose in O'Hare Airport, nor is it known to whom it once belonged. The Society spokesman speculated that Allie had most likely been dumped by its owner who realized that taking the animal aboard an airplane wasn't the best idea.
“Some human being physically carried it there and put it there,’’ he told the Tribune. “It’s not big enough to operate automatic doors.’’
In short, the reptile had been discarded like unwanted trash. Ironically, the beginning of its journey to safety and a potentially healthier future began with a trash can.
According to the Society spokesman, the animal was also in "distress" from having roamed O'Hare Airport's cold concrete floors and would need time to recuperate. Alligators like Allie are usually found in warmer climates as well -- usually in southern states.
Still, Allie's story isn't the only one where alligators have shown up where they're usually not expected to be. A 6-foot alligator invaded a Florida Walmart in October, Yahoo News reported. Police were called in to corral the intruder but by the time they arrived, the scaly beast had left the way it came -- by activating the store's automatic doors.