CLEVELAND - A Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District crew rescued an alligator from the shallow waters of the Big Creek on Thursday.
"We have a lot of interesting things that come through the sewer system and we see a lot of things out and about. An alligator though is certainly a surprise," said NEORSD spokeswoman Jean Chapman.
A surveyor saw the 18-inch reptile in the creek near a sewer outfall and alerted the NEORSD crew doing work on the Jennings Road Pump Station maintenance building.
"We have a very large group of people who love animals, and there was no way anyone would have let the alligator stay out there. He wouldn't have survived. He was limp," explained Chapman.
The alligator was nearly frozen when found. Crews put it in a garbage can with warm water to revive it.
"We're prepared to keep caring for him until we can find a place for him," Chapman said.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture is looking to find the reptile a home. In the meantime, it's temporary home is in Cuyahoga Heights at the NEORSD lab.
The timing for finding the gator is interesting, as the deadline for registering exotic animals, including alligators, in Ohio was Monday, Nov. 5.
Chapman can't confirm that the animal was released to avoid the costs of the new exotic animal regulations. Instead, she offered this advice.
"We don't want people releasing these animals into local water bodies or the sewer system," said Chapman. "They won't survive and there's a safety issue to the public and our crews."