Humboldt Park alligator 'Chance the Snapper' draws crowds, but remains elusive

Friday, July 12, 2019
Humboldt Park alligator draws crowds, but remains elusive
EMBED <>More Videos

The alligator in the Humboldt Park lagoon has been dodging trappers for days while amassing a huge fan following.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The alligator in the Humboldt Park lagoon has been dodging trappers for days while amassing a huge fan following.

The American alligator lurking below the water's surface is apparently soaking up every second of its 15 minutes of fame.

"I think they named him, what, Chance the Snapper," said Xavier Perez, onlooker. "So coming out here to see Chance."

"I don't really like them but I am really excited to see if it is out there in the lake," said Layla Ortiz, onlooker.

The alligator in the Humboldt Park lagoon has been dodging trappers for days while amassing a huge fan following.

The gator, which was first spotted Tuesday morning, has become an overnight sensation. It's even the inspiration behind a song and music video.

"Usually you find them in Florida, you know? Five feet. And in Chicago? That's exciting," said Debbie Vasiliadis, onlooker.

And some of the onlookers have become protective of the area where they've been able to spot him.

"I'm not telling you exactly where," said Andy Cholewa, onlooker. "That's for you to find out yourself."

Alligator Bob with the Chicago Herpetological Society has been on the case.

"We have been finding him moving around now," he said. "He's not just hunkered down some place. Eventually he's going to find a trap and move into it."

On the third day and counting, possible solutions for the gator's capture are inching toward desperation.

"Well, a stick of dynamite... that's the best someone can come up with," Alligator Bob said. "The problem is, where do you throw the dynamite until you see him again?"

The five traps already set out on the lagoon could still work the old-fashioned way, luring the gator in with the smell of rat bait. A team of conservationists are back on the banks, reconvening on new ways to trick the reptile to show itself again.

"One of the theories we're using is an underwater speaker that will have the baby cries in a certain area," said Alligator Bob. "See if over a certain amount of time the local alligator hears it and is old enough to respond."

The Chicago Park District put out an advisory about the gator, placed temporary restrictions on park usage, and released safety guidelines during the search for the reptile. Park visitors have been instructed not to swim, canoe or fish in the lagoon; keep their distance from the lagoon edge, including grassy areas, as alligators are often located along the water's edge; stay at least 30 feet away from the alligator if you see it and back away slowly; do not feed the alligator; keep pets away from the water's edge as they are the size and shape of common alligator prey; and to not throw things or harass the alligator.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is also keeping watch.

"I'm following Gator-gate, yes, and my hope is we'll be able to locate the alligator and make sure that people in the surrounding communities are safe," she said.

Alan Resetar, collections manager for amphibians and reptiles at the Field Museum, said while alligators can be very pretty when they're young, anyone looking to keep them as a pet should look into different reptile species.

"To anyone who wants to keep an alligator as a pet, I suggest looking at a leopard gecko or bearded dragons, which are much easier to keep and don't get big," he said. "And those are legal, yes."

It's unclear how the reptile got into the lagoon. The non-native creature was likely someone's pet that was released.

Experts believe it has only been in the lagoon for about a day or two and is used to being fed by its owner. It apparently hasn't started hunting any local animals, but will soon.

It is a misdemeanor to have a pet alligator in the state of Illinois, and it is also illegal to release a pet into a public park.

A Chicago police investigation into who released the alligator is ongoing.