An alligator thought to be a pet that had grown too large for its owner's peace of mind was pulled from the Chicago River late Thursday night after residents reported seeing it swimming near Damen Avenue in the river's north branch.
A team from the Chicago Herpetological Society was called in to capture the 3-foot-long reptile, which does not live natively in the Chicago River or Lake Michigan, after officers on a police boat confirmed seeing it in the river Thursday afternoon.
Waiting until nightfall, the team went searching for the alligator by canoe and used flashlights to locate its eyes, which glow red when light is shined on them.
The alligator put up almost no struggle, leading the authorities to believe it was someone's former pet. Alligators are illegal to keep as pets in Illinois.
The Chicago Animal Care and Control Department has custody of the alligator but plans to turn it back over to the Chicago Herpetological Society, who will work on finding it a new home.
"Oh, sure it could have survived in the Chicago River," department spokesman Mark Rosenthal told the Huffington Post, "but it was not going to make it through a Chicago winter."
(Photo courtesy of Mark Rosenthal)