Emaciated Alligator Rescued From Prospect Park Dies

An emaciated alligator that was rescued from Prospect Park in February and had ingested a four-inch-wide bathtub stopper, is dead, Bronx Zoo officials said on Friday.

The American Alligator, a nearly five-foot-long female that rescuers named Godzilla, received “extensive ongoing medical treatment” and “nutritional support” after being brought to the zoo for rehabilitation, officials said on Friday.

Although zoo workers were able to remove the stopper, doing so was not enough to save the alligator. A post-mortem examination, or necropsy, showed that she had chronic and severe weight loss, extreme anemia and infections of the intestine and skin, zoo officials said.

When the alligator, which was about 5 years old, was first discovered, officials described her as “lethargic and suffering from exposure to cold temperatures.”

Zoo officials described the death as a “tragic case of animal abuse.” The Police Department said in February that it was investigating the incident. On Friday, the police said the investigation was continuing and no arrests had been made.

The alligator was so sick when she was pulled from the water in Prospect Park that her death was not surprising, said Katy Hansen, a spokeswoman at Animal Care Centers of New York City.

Still, Ms. Hansen said, “I’m so sad.”

“It should be common sense that you can’t have an alligator as a pet,” she added. “There’s so many other great kinds of pets that are looking for homes like a dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig, you know, why would someone do that?”

The rescue of Godzilla, who was discovered by a parks department worker on a frigid Sunday morning, raised familiar questions about why the reptiles, which are not native to New York, keep appearing in the city.

Since the discovery of an eight-foot-long alligator in an East Harlem storm drain in 1935, the saw-toothed reptiles have captivated New Yorkers with regular appearances in the five boroughs. A century-old rumor described alligators traversing the city’s labyrinthine sewer system, with movies like “Alligator” adding to the intrigue.

Over the years, alligators have been spotted all across New York: sunbathing in a Queens parks, behind an apartment building and in a backyard in Brooklyn. One three-foot alligator even tried to cross the street during the evening rush hour in Manhattan.

In 2001, United Parcel Service employees found a five-foot alligator found in a cardboard box addressed to a Brooklyn home.

Like Ms. Hansen, Michael Miscione, Manhattan’s onetime official borough historian, was not surprised by the fate of the alligator discovered most recently.

“I have studied documented cases of alligator encounters in the city dating back to the early 1800s and, sadly, the historical record shows that gators usually do not fare well in the city,” Mr. Miscione said. “They are faced with the double whammy of a cold, hostile environment and mistreatment at the hands of unkind or ignorant humans.”

New York is not the only place in the Northeast where alligators turn up. An eight-foot alligator was removed from a home in Philadelphia this week, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. It was the third to be rescued this spring by one of the city’s animal care and control service providers, The Inquirer reported.

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