(CHICAGO) — The reptilian attraction that has taken Chicago by storm continues to evade capture, as authorities ramp up their search efforts and city residents yearn for a spotting.
The alligator, which was first spotted Tuesday, has drawn quite the fan base as it dodges traps in the Humboldt Park lagoon.
“I think they named him, what, ‘Chance the Snapper,'” onlooker Xavier Perez told ABC Chicago station WLS. “So coming out here to see Chance.”
“I don’t really like them but I am really excited to see if it is out there in the lake,” Layla Ortiz told the station.
Officials have been working day and night to humanely capture the animal, Jenny Schlueter, a spokeswoman for Chicago Animal Care and Control, told ABC News Friday.
“It’s just not gonna be easy to do,” Schlueter said. “The traps are set around the clock … Chicago police department is on the scene or an animal control officer at all times, so someone is always there.”
The alligator is believed to have been a pet that someone dropped in the lagoon, Schlueter said. The new territory, and the alligator’s need to acclimate to that territory, are possible reasons why the animal hasn’t taken to the traps, which include chicken drumsticks, fish and rats.
“We don’t know when the alligator ate last, and if he’s not hungry or he’s too nervous to eat then it’s just a waiting game,” Schlueter added. “It could be weeks or months until he eats again.”
The noise from the many residents may also be scaring off the reptile from surfacing, she noted.
“Imagine, he was living in a bathtub or a tank and then to an 8-acre lagoon,” she said.
The Chicago Animal Care and Control department connected with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Friday to try to come up with a plan as to how to capture the alligator before the weekend, according to Schlueter.
The Illinois DNR is sending more officers to help and authorities are laying more traps.
The alligator was last seen by a police officer around 2 a.m. Thursday, but has not been spotted since, according to Chicago police.
“We haven’t trapped it yet,” Anthony Guglielmi, spokesman for the police department, wrote ABC News in an email. “The traps were set but he hasn’t taken the bait.”
A volunteer with the Chicago Herpetological Society, known as Alligator Bob, is one of the many people assigned to the case. Members of the Illinois Conservation Police and Chicago Animal Care and Control have also been part of the search efforts.
The Chicago Park District did not comment on updates to the case.
Alligator Bob has monitored the animal’s movements and moved the traps as he sees fit, Schlueter said. The traps are checked every two hours.
Police have put up a temporary fence and signs, reminding residents of the dangers.
“The alligator is a wild animal and poses immense danger to any person who could come into contact with it,” Chicago police wrote in a tweet.
Since 1998, the city has seen 20 alligators, Schlueter said. Some came through confiscating resident’s pets, while others were rescued from the Chicago River or Lake Michigan. She believes it is the first time an alligator has ever surfaced in the Humboldt Park lagoon.
“It’s not usual,” she noted, “but it isn’t the first time it’s happened, either.”
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