The intense search for a wayward alligator in the Kiski River was all over the news last week, but this isn’t the first time a stray reptilian has made local headlines. Pittsburgh has a weird history with accidental (and on purpose) releases.
This most recent Apollo-area event was resolved on Sunday when a group of kayakers successfully caught the reptilian, which the search team nicknamed “Chomper.” He’s headed to Nate’s Reptile Rescue in Pittsburgh.
Wait, am I having deja vu?
Remember Chomp? He was the 5-foot gator that escaped a Beechview home in 2019. Then-owner Mark McGowan claimed that the alligator was his beloved pet, but he was ultimately found guilty of reckless endangerment. There were a total of 32 animals seized from his property.
In 2019, there was another loose alligator found in Southside RIverfront Park, along the Allegheny River in Lawrenceville, and on a porch in Carrick. That year, seven gators were taken to Humane Animal Rescue, which sparked something of a frenzy: “Summer of Gators” t-shirts, a local song called “Alligators of Pittsburgh,” and a pretty comprehensive article by the Wall Street Journal.
While it’s not illegal to have an alligator as a pet in Pennsylvania, wildlife experts say it’s not a good idea, and it’s especially cruel to release these animals into the wild because our habitat can’t support them.