An American alligator dumped in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in near freezing temperatures has died from a myriad of serious health problems, including a bathtub stopper found lodged in its belly from being kept illegally as a pet.
The 5- to 6-year-old animal was found back in February in Prospect Park Lake as the mercury hovered around 2C (37F) and scooped up by New York City Department of Parks and Recreation for treatment by the Bronx Zoo.
The female alligator was lethargic, severely underweight, anemic, had infections inside and out. She also had a chronic ulcer caused by the rubber stopper, which she had swallowed at some point, and was eventually removed by veterinarians to no avail.
She died in April.
“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 zoo said in a recent statement.
“This was a tragic case of animal abuse,” the zoo added. “Alligators and other wild animals do not belong in the pet trade or in people’s homes. 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. Wild animals are not pets.”
The alligator was almost five-feet long and weighed just 15 pounds. Normally, it should have been 30 to 35 pounds, officials said.
When she first arrived at the zoo, officials slowly warmed her up to an appropriate ambient temperature. She was also initially too weak and unresponsive to eat, so officials started tube feeding and medicating the alligator.
Radiographs also showed she ingested an approximately 4-inch wide bathtub stopper, which could not be removed right away.
Despite heroic efforts to save the animal over two months, she died April 16.
“The tragedy of this situation is a reminder that wild animals do not make good pets and that responsible pet ownership means making choices that will not negatively impact an individual animal or the environment,” the zoo said.