Mystery alligator captured in Illinois woman's garden

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May 26 (UPI) -- Animal control officers in Illinois were in disbelief when they responded to a call from an elderly resident and discovered a 3 1/2-foot alligator was indeed wandering her garden.

Virginia Tyus, 87, was watering the flowers in the front yard of her Decatur home when she spotted something that prompted her to call her son-in-law, Craig Stevens Sr.


"She called and said, 'Well I see the biggest snake I've ever seen,'" Stevens told WAND-TV. "Then she said, 'Well it looks like an alligator.'"

Stevens, who was attending his grandson's baseball game with family members, said his mother-in-law's report was difficult to believe.

"Everyone was just rolling in their chairs and like 'Yeah, OK,'" he recalled.

Stevens arrived at the home and immediately called animal control.

"I walked up through the roses and I looked and that's all I needed to see," Stevens said.

Macon County Animal Control was equally difficult to convince.

"Our initial reaction is disbelief and assuming it was a stuffed alligator that looks real," animal control Administrator Ron Atkins said.

Animal control said in a Facebook post that alligators would not normally fall under the purview of wardens, but they made an exception in this case and captured the reptile until the Illinois Department of Natural Resources could pick it up.


DNR officials said they are investigating the alligator's origins.

"I suspect somebody had this as a pet. And it either became more than they bargained for and they let it loose or it escaped. It probably was turned loose," Atkins told WICS-TV.

Officials said the alligator will eventually be turned over to a long-term care facility to live out its natural life.

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