Don’t expect it to lead to any new mascots among Illinois sports teams, but thanks to a local kayaker, officials in Waukegan, Illinois, recently recovered an out-of-place alligator from Lake Michigan.
According to the Chicago Tribune, sea kayaker David Castaneda was the one who discovered the gator –a 4-foot-long caiman – while kayaking on Lake Michigan early in the morning.
“I went closer to see if it was real,” he told the Tribune. “I was just in shock. I wasn’t sure if it was a real alligator or a toy.”
Castaneda called 911 and reported the find to authorities, and the city posted a photo showing the reptile on its Facebook page.
“It is not every day someone reports an alligator in Lake Michigan and the report is true,” officials stated. “This time the call was followed up with video of this four foot alligator slowly swimming in the Lake.”
Officials claimed the gator was thin and lethargic, and “definitely on borrowed time.” It was transported to the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest.
Although some alligator species thrive in freshwater, Lake Michigan is too far north and too cold for them to survive. Officials are uncertain as to how the caiman showed up in Lake Michigan in the first place.