An alligator that was rescued from a chilly lake in New York City over the weekend had swallowed a bath plug, authorities have revealed.
The nearly 5ft-long female alligator was lethargic and suffering from exposure to the cold when it was found in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Lake on Sunday, according to a spokesperson for the Bronx Zoo, where the animal is recovering.
After being spotted by a park maintenance worker on Sunday morning, the alligator was pulled from the lake and taken to Animal Care Centres of New York City before it was brought to the Bronx Zoo.
Zoo officials said in a news release that the rescued alligator is too weak to eat on its own and is being tube-fed.
Weighing 6.8 kilos, the alligator is extremely emaciated, as an alligator of its length should weigh 13.6 to 15.9 kilos, officials said.
X-Rays show that the alligator, estimated to be five or years old, had ingested a 4in (10cm) bath plug, zoo officials said, noting that the animal is too weak for veterinarians to try to remove it.
It is illegal to have an alligator in New York state, but it is not uncommon for people to buy young alligators and then abandon them. A baby alligator was found in a swimming pool in suburban Bayport in 2019.
Animal Care Centres spokesperson Katy Hansen said the organisation has taken in six American alligators since 2018.
Bronx Zoo director Jim Breheny called the alligator found on Sunday a sad example of the exotic pet trade.
“People need to think before they acquire exotic animals,” he said. “Everyone needs to know and realise that wild animals don’t make good pets.”
Mr Breheny said leaving the alligator in a lake in Brooklyn in the wintertime “was an irresponsible act and certainly not in the animal’s best interest”.