Brooklynites taking a Sunday morning stroll in Prospect Park bit off way more than they could chew, after discovering an alligator floating in the park’s lake.
The gator was found early Sunday morning in the lake, near the Duck Island in the park’s southeastern section, the New York Post first reported and a Parks Department spokesperson later confirmed. The reptile, native to warmer climates, was “very lethargic and possibly cold-shocked” and had to be pulled from the water by Parks Department staff.
The gator was loaded into a cage and transported to Animal Care Centers’ Brooklyn location in East New York for medical evaluation, where he was named Godzilla; the 4-foot-long creature is now recuperating at the Bronx Zoo, the spokesperson said.
“We’re grateful to our Parks Enforcement Patrol and Urban Park Rangers who snapped into action to capture and transport the alligator,” said Parks Department spokesperson Meghan Lalor. “Thankfully no one was harmed and the animal is being evaluated.”
Lalor said that Godzilla, obviously not native to New York, was probably a pet abandoned in the lake. Not only is it cruel to abandon pets in city parks, but it’s also illegal.
“Parks are not suitable homes for animals not indigenous to those parks — domesticated or otherwise,” said Lalor. “In addition to the potential danger to parkgoers this could have caused, releasing non-indigenous animals or unwanted pets can lead to the elimination of native species and unhealthy water quality.”
The gator would be far from the first unwanted pet dumped in Prospect Park’s lake. The beloved turtles who populate the lake and sun on its rocky outcroppings are mainly red-eared sliders, a species not native to New York but popular as a pet. The Parks Department and turtle experts say the population is composed of abandoned pets or their descendants; those that survive have become an invasive species crowding out other species of turtle.