Woman accused of abandoning small gator at O'Hare

6:51 PM, Jan 22, 2014   |    comments
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Alligator captured at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport

(USA Today)--  A 29-year-old woman was charged with animal cruelty Wednesday for allegedly abandoning a 2-foot-long alligator at O'Hare International Airport in November, Chicago police said.

STORY: Search for woman who left alligator at O'Hare Airport

Alexis Prokopchuk, of suburban Oakbrook Terrace, told police Tuesday that she and her boyfriend took the 3-year-old American alligator from a friend who planned to flush it down the toilet, the Chicago Tribune reported.

But, for reasons still not fully explained, she took the reptile on a city train early Nov. 1, showing it to passengers, according to Chicago Transit Authority security footage. She arrived at the airport about 2:15 a.m. and then let the alligator go before catching a return train a half hour later.

Prokopchuk told police she was high on crack cocaine, heroin and unidentified pills at the time.

She was also charged with reckless conduct and ordered held on $5,000 bail. Another court date was set for Jan. 30.

A traveler on an escalator to the lower level of Terminal 3 spotted the alligator and notified a custodian, who called police. The gator was "very lethargic" and in poor condition from malnourishment long before it was abandoned. authorities said.

Police corralled the gator in a trash can and handed it over to the Chicago Herpetological Society.

"It is very lucky to have been spotted and captured before the weather killed it," society president Jason Hood said afterward.

His organization planned to rehabilitate Allie and ship it to a facility in another state, presumably Florida or a southern neighbor, the normal habitat of the American alligator. They can grow to four feet long, and have the life expectancy of humans.

"One of the problems is they live so darn long," Hood told the Tribune in November. "When your child turns 18, you can throw him out the door, but this is America -- you have to be a responsible pet owner.''

USA TODAY has asked Hood for an update on Allie's condition and whereabouts.

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