- City of Waukegan/Facebook
- Authorities found and rescued a live alligator in Lake Michigan.
- A kayaker found the reptile in the water near Waukegan, Illinois.
- They initially believed it was a dead salmon.
- It’s unclear how the alligator ended up in the lake because alligators are not native to the area.
- Officials say the alligator was “definitely on borrowed time,” as temperatures in the water are expected to plummet in the coming weeks.
On Monday, authorities found and rescued a live alligator in Lake Michigan near Waukegan, Illinois, officials said.
“It is not every day someone reports an alligator in Lake Michigan and the report is true,” the city of Waukegan said in a Facebook post announcing the discovery of the reptile.
David Castaneda, a Chicago resident, discovered the 4-foot-long American alligator while fishing for salmon in a kayak, he told the Chicago Tribune. At first, he thought it might be a (very large) dead salmon, he told the outlet.
“I went closer to see if it was real,” he said. “I was just in shock. I wasn’t sure if it was a real alligator or a toy.”
But when he realized it was a live alligator, Castaneda called 911. The animal was then taken to the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest, Illinois.
It’s unclear how long the animal was in the lake for – or how it got there. Rob Carmichael, the curator of the Wildlife Discovery Center, said the animal, whose mouth appeared to be taped shut in a picture posted by the city of Waukegan, “was definitely on borrowed time.”
“I would say it would be lucky if it lived another couple weeks,” Carmichael said. “Lake Michigan is only getting colder and colder each week.”
This isn’t the first time an alligator has made it to Lake Michigan. The Chicago Tribune notes that a gator appeared in the waters in 2010.
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.