CHICAGO (CBS) — For a shy reptile that has only been spotted in a few snapshots and brief snippets of video, the four-foot alligator recently spotted in the lagoon at Humboldt Park lagoon is quickly becoming a star.
The alligator’s fame started with a handful of Twitter pages sharing jokes about the reptile’s thoughts, including one named Chance The Snapper, which apparently caught the eye of Chance The Rapper.
The alligator also caught the eye of Chicago Bulls mascot Benny the Bull, who joined crowds of onlookers at Humboldt Park on Thursday, hoping to see the reptile get captured.
Benny posed for a few photos with children watching for the alligator on Thursday and even trapped a fake alligator in a big butterfly net before heading home for the day.
Gator watch at the lagoon has even prompted theories it’s just a big publicity stunt for the upcoming horror movie “Crawl,” about alligators on the loose in a Florida town after a massive hurricane.
“Alligator Bob,” a reptile expert with the Chicago Herpetological Society, has set up traps in and around the lagoon in hopes of catching the alligator, so it can be taken to a zoo or animal rescue.
“Apparently Alligator Bob is on the case,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot joked Thursday morning.
Lightfoot said she was surprised when she first heard the rumors of an alligator in the Humboldt Park lagoon, even more so when the rumors turned out to be true.
“It’s always an urban myth that there’s alligators here or there, climbing out of toilets and things like that,” she said.
City officials have said it’s likely someone had been keeping the alligator as a pet and released it into the pond when it got too big.
“People have exotic tastes in pets, and then the pets get big, and then they lose their interest. So I think a larger conversation that we have to have is about people being realistic about the kind of pets that they can bring into their home,” Lightfoot said. “Alligators can be very dangerous. They can travel on the land at great speeds, and we want to make sure that nobody in our community is injured.”
So far, Alligator Bob hasn’t had any luck catching the alligator in the Humboldt Park lagoon, but he has gotten plenty of face time on local TV talking about his efforts to trap it.
The alligator was first spotted early Tuesday morning. Chicago police officers, Chicago Animal Care and Control teams, and Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police responded to reports of the alligator and confirmed the reptile was in the lagoon.
So far, it hasn’t been lured in by the traps Alligator Bob set up to trap it, and it has gone underwater to hide whenever he’s gotten close to the reptile with his boat.