Crews Search Chicago Lagoon After Possible Alligator Sighting Reported

Crews were seen searching a Chicago lagoon Tuesday after police said they received reports of a possible alligator in the water.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi wrote in a tweet Tuesday evening that the Chicago Police Department "independently confirmed the alligator is in the lagoon." 

Police said they were called to Humboldt Park Lagoon after a Facebook post showed images of what appeared to be an alligator in the water. 

Photographer Rencie Horst-Ruiz told NBC 5 she was at the lagoon around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday when she saw the alligator and snapped photos. She reported the creature appeared about 4 or 5 feet long. 

Illinois Conservation Police and Animal Care and Control responded to the scene to investigate, but Chicago police spokeswoman Officer Michelle Tannehill said they still could not confirm if an alligator was in fact in the water as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Authorities later held a second press conference Tuesday confirming they had seen the footage taken by a so-called "expert on a boat," but officials were still unable to confirm it themselves. They also added that they believe "this alligator was possibly placed by a pet owner."

Police still urged people to stay out of the water in the lagoon and to be cautious when walking in the area.

"This is close to a walkway so if you’re walking your dogs or small children are playing please be aware that possibly there might be an alligator, but it has not been confirmed," Tannehill said. 

The nearby beach remained open in the area and no closures were reported as of Tuesday afternoon, Tannehill said. 

Officials said a reptile specialist would take over the investigation Tuesday evening, placing live humane traps and if the reptile is trapped and captured, it will immediately be taken to the nearest zoo to be seen by a reptile veterinarian.

The Chicago Park District could not immediately be reached for comment on the matter. 

Anyone who sees a possible alligator sighting is being asked to call Animal Care and Control, 911 or 311. 

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