A 2-foot-long alligator was found on Friday, Nov. 1, hiding under an escalator in Terminal 3 of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

The alligator, nicknamed ‘Allie’ by police, was spotted by an O’Hare patron who immediately reported the finding to a nearby O’Hare security guard, Tineka Walker.

“I looked, I said, ‘What?’” Walker told WBBM-TV.

Walker was able to rescue the animal from under the escalator, managing to gather it with a broom and dustpan before calling for help. The Chicago Police Department quickly swooped in to deal with the situation, though they reportedly initially thought it was a prank call, and animal control was also called in.

According to reports, Allie is 3 years old and suffered from her time in the airport – the alligator has a metabolic bone deficiency and was weak upon rescue. The police called in the Chicago Herpetological Society to provide care for the animal, and a spokesperson for the organization said that the alligator “needs time to recover.”

“Some human being physically carried it there and put it there… It’s not big enough to operate automatic doors. It could have gotten into baggage… What if it had gotten on the tarmac or run over by a plane?” the spokesman for the Chicago Herpetological Society told the Chicago Tribune.

A rescuer that works with the Chicago Herpetological Society, Bob Bavirsha, also expressed his outrage, noting that the alligator could easily have been injured or could have caused injury to passengers.

“What if a little kid grabbed this, thinking it was a toy? That could do a nasty job,” Bavirsha told CNN.

Authorities are still investigating how 'Allie' ended up in O'Hare, but they believe that the alligator may have been brought into the airport by a man traveling on the Blue Line train earlier on Friday. Photos posted to Twitter on Friday clearly show a person holding an almost identical alligator on his or her lap on the train. Though the person’s face does not appear in the photograph, there is a visible arm tattoo that could help identify the alligator owner.

Bavirsha appeared sure that the alligator in the photo was the alligator found in the Airport.

“The patterns on an alligator are as unique as your fingerprints. We can actually match this band right here with that band right here,” Bavirsha explained.

‘Allie’ is currently receiving treatment in Chicago and will be found a permanent home when healthy.

“It needs quiet and warmth… Allie will be stuck in quarantine until it gets healthy again. After that, the society will find a permanent home for it in another state. The conditions in Chicago are not perfect for raising alligators,” spokesperson for the Chicago Herpetological Society told the Chicago Tribune.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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