A 4-foot-long alligator spotted in a lake in a New York City park Sunday was in "poor condition," officials say, which is not surprising—American alligators aren't generally found in the wild north of North Carolina and the water in Prospect Park Lake would have been far too cold for the creature. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation says a maintenance staff member noticed the alligator and workers captured it and removed it from the Brooklyn lake, CNN reports. It was taken to the Bronx Zoo for rehabilitation.
"The animal was found very lethargic and possibly cold shocked since it is native to warm, tropical climates," said parks department spokesman Dan Kastanis. Officials believe the alligator may have been abandoned by somebody who bought it as a pet when it was much smaller. Katy Hansen at Animal Care Centers of New York City, which treated the alligator before it was taken to the zoo, says this is the sixth alligator they have dealt with since 2018, the New York Times reports. She says two other alligators were found outdoors and three were turned over by police, including one found by the department's gang unit.
"Parks are not suitable homes for animals not indigenous to those parks—domesticated or otherwise," Kastanis said. "In addition to the potential danger to park goers this could have caused, releasing non-indigenous animals or unwanted pets can lead to the elimination of native species and unhealthy water quality." (Read more alligator stories.)