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Alligator missing for 10 days found alive in Kansas City’s Northland. What’s next for it?

In World
June 03, 2024

An alligator that went missing in Kansas City’s Northland was found alive Monday morning after ten days on the loose.

The 14-inch gator was found outside a back door to Lakeview Middle School by custodial staff, according to an email sent to staff and families.

The alligator initially went missing from Thorni Ridge Exotics, a mobile petting zoo based in Smithton, Missouri, at an end-of-year celebration at the middle school on May 23.

KC Pet Project, which called off its search for the alligator six days ago, received an anonymous tip that the alligator was found near the school, said Tori Fugate, chief communications officer for KC Pet Project. An officer for KC Pet Project that was working in the Northland secured the alligator from the school grounds.

The alligator initially escaped the middle school with its mouth taped shut, raising concerns about the animal’s ability to eat or drink. The gator was found Monday morning with the tape still intact.

“It’s hard to say how he survived,” Fugate said. “But, I mean, I’ve been told by people who care for alligators that they can go quite a while without having food. It’s more of, you know, they need heat, water and things like that.”

The gator is still being examined by staff and specialists at KC Pet Project, but is mobile, Fugate said.

“We had it in a little carrier on the way in, and it was kind of moving around in the carrier a little bit,” Fugate said. “But, you know, we’re still wanting to have somebody who specializes with animals of this nature to come in and just take a look at it.”

Whether the alligator will be returned to the petting zoo or placed with an animal rescue is still to be determined. KC Pet Project currently has a hold placed on the alligator due to a pending investigation regarding the gators escape, but has been in contact with the petting zoo, Fugate said.

According to previous reporting from The Star, the petting zoo brought the alligator into the school without the proper permit from KC Pet Project’s Animal Services Division. KC Pet Project stated it intends to pursue citations against all parties involved in bringing the gator in to the school.

The school was unaware of any permits that the petting zoo needed to operate in the school, said Kelly Wachel, chief communications officer for the Park Hill School District.

“We were relying on the petting zoo to secure those and ensure that they would notify us if we need zoo permits or that they would secure them for us,” Wachel said. “That was something that we’re still working through.”

Alligators are not allowed in Kansas City according to city law, previous reporting from The Star revealed.

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