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Gator in Chicago Lagoon Caught After Weeklong Search

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    Gator in Humboldt Park Lagoon Caught After Weeklong Search

    The alligator in Chicago's Humboldt Park Lagoon was captured early Tuesday morning after a weeklong search mission that drew national attention. Sandra Torres reports.

    (Published Tuesday, July 16, 2019)

    The alligator in Chicago's Humboldt Park Lagoon was captured overnight into Tuesday morning after a weeklong search mission that drew national attention. 

    Chicago officials and wildlife experts caught the alligator in the overnight hours, police said early Tuesday, one full week after it was first spotted swimming in the lagoon.

    The gator was first seen the morning of July 9. Photographer Rencie Horst-Ruiz told NBC 5 she was at the lagoon around 6:30 a.m. when she saw the alligator and snapped photos. She reported the creature appeared about 4 or 5 feet long.

    Illinois Conservation Police and Animal Care and Control responded to the scene hours later to investigate. 

    Animal Control then brought in a reptile specialist dubbed "Gator Bob" who took over the effort to place live humane traps that night. The creature continued to evade capture for days, at which point city officials decided to take a new approach. 

    The east side of the lagoon was fenced off from the public entirely on Sunday night and an expert from Florida was brought in to try his hand at the hunt. 

    The CACC hired Frank Robb, an alligator expert who owns Crocodilian Specialist Services in Florida. Robb was recommended by local experts in Florida, and arrived in Chicago Sunday for an examination of the area surrounding the lagoon.

    No traps remained in the water as of Monday evening, according to Chicago Animal Care and Control Executive Director Kelley Gandurski, who said Robb was instead focused on tracking the animal, which was last officially spotted early Thursday morning.

    Officials warned that crowds gathering at the lagoon may have "altered" the animal's behavior.

    "He was hiding," Grandurski said, noting the closures were put in place to capture the animal and not out of concern for the public. 

    So what happens next, now that the creature has been captured? 

    "We want to ensure it can be moved to a permanent home in an appropriate location – not a lagoon in a Chicago park," Gandurski had previously said.

    Officials said that upon capture, the animal would be taken to the nearest zoo to be seen by a reptile veterinarian. Further information on where the animal's new permanent home would be remained unclear.

    Officials believe the alligator was being kept as a pet before it was taken to the lagoon. 

    Grandurski said such an incident is rare in the Chicago and the city "hopes to keep it that way." She urged anyone with exotic pets to call animal control instead of releasing such an animal into the wild. 

    "Dumping it into a lagoon is the last thing you should do," she said.