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Baby alligator finds home

April 30, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

THURMONT - An alligator found Wednesday night along the Potomac River is an underweight hatchling, and might have been brought here from Florida by a student on spring break, an official with the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo said Friday.

The American alligator is 4 to 7 months old and is 8 inches long, said Whitney Hahn, communications director for the wildlife preserve.

"We are warming it right now to bring its body temperature back up," Hahn said Friday. "Sometime this weekend, we'll offer him some food."


The alligator was found on the banks of the Potomac River in Williamsport and turned in to Ted Anderson, chief of the Martinsburg Police Department.

Police contacted several government agencies, trying to find a home for the alligator before the wildlife preserve agreed to take it.

The alligator's sex will not be able to be determined for some time, but Hahn said she and others are referring to it as "him."

Small items of food, such as goldfish or earthworms, will be the alligator's first options.

The alligator now is in quarantine to ensure it does not pass along any potential problems to the preserve's other animals.

Once the quarantine period is over, the alligator will be used by the preserve's education program, which is done on-site and at events. The alligators in the education program can be picked up, and are taken to schools, birthday parties and other events, Hahn said.

Once the alligator becomes too big for that program, it will be moved to the preserve's alligator bayou.

Hahn said it's possible the alligator was someone's pet, but said that alligators are not bought and sold now as in years past. The more likely option is that a student on spring break brought it back here.

Hahn said the alligator could not have survived long term in this climate because it would not be able to withstand the area's cold temperatures in an uncontrolled environment.

The family that found the alligator did the right thing by turning it in to authorities rather than trying to keep it, Hahn said.

For now, the alligator remains nameless. Officials at the preserve want to ensure it's going to survive before giving it a name, Hahn said.

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