Chicago Finds a Feral Alligator

Yesterday Chicago Police pulled a small (five or six feet) alligator from the Chicago River on the near South Side near 37th Street.This almost certainly was yet another example of a discarded exotic pet that some idiot thought would be cool, then threw out when they finally realized they couldn’t handle it.

But that opens the big question of when it was released and how long was it able to survive in the wild in Chicago? At five feet long, that alligator is probably several years old.

Did it really survive an Illinois winter or was it released this spring? Did it find some industrial water release that keeps water warmer (the trick of some Florida manatees)? According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, alligators can tolerate limited freezing temperatures.

The alligator was captured by two great volunteers from the Chicago Herpetological Society. After tests it will go “back to the South” one of the semi-anonymous volunteers told the Sun-Times.

If it was raised as a pet I doubt it could be released in the wild. I wonder where he’ll go?

The San Diego Zoo says that the American Alligator Alligator mississippiensis “was once considered endangered, but through protection plans, management, and captive propagation it has made a remarkable comeback.”

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Wolves and Bear Find Shelter with Chicagoland Biology Teacher

Big Run Wolf Ranch, Lockport, IL

Three species of wolves (British Columbian, Arctic and Grey Timber) interact intermingled in three different pens. Biology teacher Julie Basile and her husband John (who founded the ranch 18 years ago) track their interactions and move them to different groups when they see there’s trouble coming, either in the form of too rough dominance fights or mating season. Once secluded, the ranch is now crowded by houses and planned businesses. But the ranch is still growing. They visit schools or have nearby scouts and school groups come visit and learn about wolves. The wolves jump up and lick their caretakers.

In addition to the wolves, the Basiles have taken in other animals that need help and a place to live. Wildlife officials came to John in 2000 with a 20 pound black bear cub that someone had bought at a flea market for $200 and tried to raise in an apartment until neighbors thought better of the idea. They would have euthanized the bear, now known as Kuma, that day, but the ranch took the bear in and built a proper enclosure, pool, shower and hibernation hut. Kuma likes to show off to crowds and wrestles with John.The ranch also has several shy coyotes, wild cats, horses, dogs, peacocks and a rescued descented skunk. Kirby looks different than a wild skunk because he’s a domesticated variety and he smells different because he’s been descented. He’s friendly, cuddly and instintively holds

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