An alligator spotted near Wildcat Creek Wednesday evening is not the missing gator from Manhattan Reptile World, officials said.
Deb Watkins, director of the T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter, which oversees animal control, said someone reported the alligator to the store Wednesday evening, but the owners said it wasn’t theirs as it was too small. Someone then notified animal control. The missing alligator should be about 5 feet long, whereas the one recently seen at the creek is about 3 feet long.
Someone stole two American alligators from the store in early June. One was spotted along Wildcat Creek shortly after, but it eluded capture for about a week until it ultimately got caught in a trap that fell into the water, causing the creature to drown.
Store owners said they believed someone tampered with the trap as it was secured to a tree, and they had problems with people interfering with capture attempts earlier. The second alligator has not been seen at all since being reported stolen.
Animal control officers contacted the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to help determine how to capture it if needed.
“Sometimes people illegally capture or buy alligators when they’re small, thinking they would make a good pet,” Watkins said.
“This could be one of those cases. Anyone who owns an alligator is required to have a state license and large alligators require a pet store license.”
Manhattan Parks and Recreation officials said people should exercise caution on Linear Trail between South Manhattan Avenue and Pecan Circle along Wildcat Creek but the area has not been blocked off.