www.redeyechicago.com/news/chi-small-alligator-startles-officials-at-ohare-20131103,0,6585778.story

redeyechicago.com

'Allie' the alligator found under escalator at O'Hare

By Rosemary Regina Sobol

Tribune reporter

8:57 AM CST, November 4, 2013

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Police managed to whisk a 2-foot-long alligator into a box after a traveler spotted it under an escalator at O’Hare International Airport.

The person made the bizarre discovery Friday in the lower level of Terminal 3, Police News Affairs Officer Hector Alfaro said. The unexpected trespasser was transferred to the care of the Chicago Herpetological Society.

The 3-year-old American alligator, dubbed "Allie" by police, was still “in distress ’’ Sunday and was suffering from a metabolic bone deficiency, which likely means its diet was poor and lacked calcium for some time before it was found, according to a spokesman for the Chicago Herpetological Society.

A traveler going down an escalator first spotted the “very lethargic” gator and grabbed an O’Hare custodian, who then called police about 10 a.m. Friday, according to the spokesman.

The police contacted the society to help with the removal of the animal, he said, adding that officers used a broom to whisk the gator into a box.

Allie “needs time to recover,’’ he said, after the jarring experience of lying on the cold concrete floor of O’Hare after likely being “dumped’’ there, he said.

“Some human being physically carried it there and put it there,’’ he said. “It’s not big enough to operate automatic doors. It could have gotten into baggage. . .What if it had gotten on the tarmac or run over by a plane?’’

Allie, who is considered a "juvenile," is about 24 inches long and small for its age. Its gender was not immediately known.

Alligators like Allie normally live in temperatures of 85 to 90 degrees, can grow to four feet and can have the same life expectancy of humans. "Everybody thinks they’re cute and adorable when they’re small,’’ the society spokesman said. "They grow up to be not only much larger, but also with teeth.

“One of the problems is they live so darn long. . .People don't realize. . .When your child turns 18, you can throw him out the door but this is America -- you have to be a responsible pet owner.’’

Right now, Allie's health is paramount. This kind of animal normally lives in Florida or other southern states. “It needs quiet and warmth,’’ he said. “Allie will be stuck in quarantine until it gets healthy again.

"After that, the society will find a permanent home for it in another state. The conditions in Chicago are not perfect for raising alligators.''

rsobol@tribune.com

Twitter:@RosemarySobol1

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