Alligator found in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Lake


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Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation workers found and rescued a four-foot-long alligator from a lake in Prospect Park on Feb. 19.

A spokesperson released a statement on the condition of the alligator after its apprehension. The spokesperson described the alligator to be in “poor condition and very lethargic.”

The rescue occurred after a park maintenance staff employee spotted the alligator in Prospect Park Lake, according to department spokesperson, Dan Kastanis who serves as New York City parks’ senior press officer.

“The animal was found very lethargic and possibly cold-shocked since it is native to warm, tropical climates,” Kastanis said. “Parks are not suitable homes for animals not indigenous to those parks — domesticated or otherwise.

After it was caught, the alligator was moved and brought to the Animal Care Center in Brooklyn, said Katy Hansen, the organization’s communication director.

This is not the first time an alligator has been spotted in the streets or waters of New York City. Former Manhattan Borough Historian Michael Miscione said that alligators have been spotted in the city since 1815.

Most notably, one was found by a group of boys in an East Harlem sewer in 1935, reported The Gothamist.

“Some boys were shoveling snow into a sewer grate,” Miscione said. “They noticed a movement below, and peered in, and basically they saw a live alligator. He wasn’t very energetic, but he was alive.”

Six alligators on separate occasions have been rescued with the help of Animal Care Centers in New York, reported The New York Times. An alligator was found abandoned in Brooklyn in 2018. Another alligator was found on Staten Island in 2019.

New York has a history of unusual animals spotted and abandoned within the five boroughs.

New York City’s Parks and Recreation Department cited small guinea pigs being released in the winter of 1998. A two-foot crocodile was spotted in Central Park in 2002 and again in 2012, originating from an apartment in Brooklyn.

Alligators are not native to New York City. The National Wildlife stated that an alligator habitat only goes as far as North Carolina in the United States.

Most American alligators need bodies of water that range from 20-30 degrees Celsius to survive according to Jim Wellenhan, an associate professor of zoological medicine at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

“The size of the lake is fine,” Wellenhan said. “The temperature of the lake is not so good.”

Prospect Park’s temperature was around 4-7 C on Feb. 19.

No one has claimed responsibility for the abandoned alligator. The alligator has since been moved to the Bronx Zoo for more rehabilitation efforts.