Alligator rescued from Prospect Park Lake found dead


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Razia Islam, Science & Technology Editor

Bronx Zoo officials announced that a 4-foot-long female American alligator originally found in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Lake died, two months after it was discovered in February.

The alligator — named “Godzilla” — was found lethargic and possibly cold-shocked due to her unfamiliarity with New York City’s winter weather. The alligator was presumed to be an abandoned pet.

The alligator was rescued and taken to the Bronx Zoo for rehabilitation and veterinary care but ultimately died.

“Despite the intensive care, the alligator was so emaciated, debilitated, and anemic, her immune system was not as strong as it needed to be and she succumbed to those infections,” the Bronx Zoo said in a news release.

The alligator suffered from numerous health issues, such as extreme anemia, internal and external infections and severe weight loss, according to her autopsy. When the alligator was rescued, she weighed only 15 pounds. A healthy alligator of her length should have weighed around 30 to 35 pounds.

The zoo also revealed that the alligator ingested a 4-inch-wide bathtub stopper, which, although removed, caused the alligator to develop a chronic stomach ulcer.

Alligators have an average life expectancy of 30 to 50 years. The deceased alligator was estimated to be around 5 or 6 years old, significantly younger than its average lifespan.

“This was a tragic case of animal abuse,” the Bronx Zoo stated.

In most states, pet alligators are illegal. States that do allow crocodilian pets require owners to obtain a special license.

“Alligators and other wild animals do not belong in the pet trade or in people’s homes,” the Bronx Zoo said. “This alligator suffered and died because its owner decided to dump her in a frigid lake, in an extremely debilitated state rather than provide her with the veterinary care that could have saved her.”

Alligators are non-native to New York and prohibited from being purchased in the state. But the animal manages to make appearances in the five boroughs every few years. Alligators found in New York City are either sent to the city by mail or abandoned, as the reptiles prefer to be in warmer, southern climates.

Godzilla was the sixth alligator since 2018 to be rescued by the Animal Care Centers of NYC, a group that rescues and re-homes abandoned animals.

“The tragedy of this situation is a reminder that wild animals do not make good pets,” the Bronx Zoo said.