Alligator found in Chicago River

CHICAGO Two workers at a plant in Bridgeport found an alligator in the south branch of the river.

This is the real deal - a five-foot alligator, just minding his own business in Bubbly Creek until a couple of Midland metal workers on their lunch break sitting on the river looked up to see an alligator.

"First we were looking at the fish," said Leo Nunez.

"Somebody said, 'C'mon, it's an alligator.' I was just there, I seen no alligator over there. They said, 'C'mon,'" said Marva Terry.

So Bob, of the Hepetological Society, was summoned and removed the gator.

They don't know if it's a boy or girl. But Bob figures it was probably someone's illegal pet, and they set it loose recently in the river. Fecal tests will tell how long it's been there and what fine dining it's enjoyed.

"This guy appears to be very healthy. And it's a testament to our own Chicago River if he was in there. I mean, the river's pretty clean if it can support the life of an alligator," said Bob. "Even Bubbly Creek, I mean, I went in there to get him, and my shoes didn't dissolve."

The gator is the newest constituent of the 11th District, giving the alderman naming rights. So he's going to call him White Sox.

"Hopefully this is the last one we'll find in here. Hopefully, it's the last one. I don't need someone saying they've seen a 20-foot alligator or a crocodile in here," said Ald. Jim Balcer,11th Ward.

So it's quite a photo opportunity. Go ahead, pet the gator, but avoid the teeth. There's some jaw power there.

When former mayor Richard J. Daley, years ago, talked fondly about watching people fish in the Chicago River downtown, he probably did not envision alligators swimming in the south fork.

And it's a good thing the gator is no longer in Bubbly Creek - even for its own good. Surviving the summer is one thing. It would not have made it through a Chicago winter. They'll check it out, and the gator will likely be sent to a zoo or animal sanctuary down south.

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