CHICAGO (CBS) — A five-foot alligator eluded capture for several days last week in the lagoon at Humboldt Park, but after a gator expert from Florida was brought in with a new strategy for luring the critter out of hiding, the elusive gator was finally caught early Tuesday morning.
The 5-foot 3-inch alligator was captured around 1:30 a.m. on an island on the northwest side of the lagoon.
Frank Robb, owner of Crocodilian Specialist Services in Florida, caught the toothy critter using a fishing pole with a grappling hook on the end.
Robb said he made about eight loops around the lagoon overnight before spotting him among the lily pads.
“It went down pretty fast once we finally saw it,” Robb said. “Once we were able to see him, it was one cast and done.”
Robb said it put up a little bit of a fight, but seemed exhausted after its long ordeal in the park.
The male alligator weighs about 30 to 40 pounds, and is in good health, according to Robb.
“Wherever he came from, or however he got here, he’s a very healthy animal,” he said.
City officials have said it’s likely someone had been keeping the gator as an illegal pet, and released it in the lagoon when it got too big.
Chicago Animal Care and Control director Kelly Gandurski said she was proud of the concern the city showed for the alligator over the past week.
“This is the city of big shoulders, but it’s also the city of big hearts; and especially big hearts for animals,” she said.
However, she also reminded people that “Alligators do not make good pets.”
“They are wild animals, and they’re wild for a reason,” she said.
Gandurski said, if anyone wants a pet in Chicago, there are plenty of animal shelters where they can adopt homeless dogs and cats.
As for the alligator, it will be taken to a zoo or an animal sanctuary, once officials determine where it will best be able to thrive.
“No harm will come to this gator,” Gandurski said.
The gator was first seen in the Humboldt Park lagoon one week ago, and a volunteer known only as “Alligator Bob” had set several humane traps in an effort to catch it, but had no luck as large crowds swarmed the park to watch for the reptile, which would hide anytime Alligator Bob got close.
Over the weekend, the city changed up its strategy for finding and catching the gator. The city hired Robb to conduct a survey of the park and lagoon, and on Sunday officials closed the eastern half of Humboldt Park, hoping a quieter environment would lure it out of hiding.
“It went exactly as we planned. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more. It was a very blessed experience. Everybody was awesome,” Robb said. “We needed quiet, we needed to have the place shut down for a while and let the animal relax so that he would give us an opportunity. When it comes to alligators specifically, they’ve got to be a bit of a team player. If they don’t give you a little bit, then you’re not going to ever catch one, and he finally gave us a little bit.”
Chicago Park District CEO said Humboldt Park is fully open for business again now that the gator has been caught.
“This isn’t really the way I would have gone about advertising Humboldt Park,” he said. “But, you know what, a lot of people saw it for the first time. They saw how beautiful it is, and like I said we’re open for business.”
The city is refusing to say how much they’re paying Robb for his services.