Nearly frozen alligator rescued

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CLEVELAND — Was someone trying to avoid registering their exotic animal by dumping it down a sewer drain?  That’s what the Ohio Department of Agriculture will be investigating. 

A two-foot alligator was rescued from the shallow waters of Big Creek in Cleveland on Thursday, near Steelyard Commons.

A surveyor noticed it by a sewer outfall and alerted Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District crews who were doing maintenance at the agency’s Jennings Road Pump Station.

The alligator was not moving, so to revive the nearly frozen animal, crews put her in a tub with warm water.

The alligator was being cared for at a Sewer District facility in Cuyahoga Heights until the Ohio Department of Agriculture provides instructions.

According to Jeannie Chapman, the public information specialist for NEORSD, there is speculation the reptile may have been released to avoid the cost of new exotic animal regulations. 

Ohio’s exotic ban registration deadline was just this past Monday, Nov. 5.  Owners of lions, tigers, bears, certain snakes and alligators are required to register with the state, pay fines, undergo background checks, get insurance and post signs on their property – warning of dangerous animals.

If you’re caught violating this, you will face a first-degree misdemeanor ($1,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail).  A second violation results in a felony.

Sewer officials say please don’t dump reptiles in rivers, lakes or sewers.  It’s dangerous for the animal, the public and sewer crews who have to inspect the infrastructure regularly.

The rescued alligator was doing better on Thursday night.

Questions about exotic animals may be directed to the Ohio Department of Agriculture at (614) 466-2732.