“I looked, I said, ‘What?’" Tineka Walker told CBS Chicago.
Using a broom and dustpan, airport officials scurried the 25-inch-long reptile away from passengers and waited for animal control to arrive. They named it Allie, though the animal's gender has yet to be identified.
“Some human being physically carried it there and put it there,’’ Chicago Police spokesman Hector Alfaro told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s not big enough to operate automatic doors.’’
Though Allie is still a juvenile, Alfaro said that some pet owners don't realize how difficult it can be to care for a full-grown alligator.
“Everybody thinks they’re cute and adorable when they’re small," he added. “One of the problems is they live so darn long…people don't realize…when your child turns 18 you can throw him out the door but this is America -- you have to be a responsible pet owner."
Jason Hood, of the Chicago Herpetological Society, told NBC Chicago that the reptile was suffering from "improper husbandry and poor diet."
Illinois residents hoping to own alligators must have permits from the state's Department of Natural Resources.
Allie will remain in quarantine until its health improves.