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The city provided some gator aid this week after an 18-inch alligator was discovered under a car in Astoria.
The reptile, a year-old male, was spotted around 3 p.m. Sunday lying underneath an automobile on Newtown Avenue at 29th Street in Astoria, said Michael Pastore, director of field operations for the city Animal Care and Control Office.
Community leaders said they were surprised to hear of the neighborhood’s visitor.
“They call Astoria one of the most diverse neighborhoods, but this is ridiculous,” City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said.
Both Vallone and Pastore said the alligator probably ended up on the streets after its owner decided that keeping it as a pet was no longer an option.
“If someone knows anyone who had an alligator but doesn’t have one anymore, please turn that sleazeball in and get a reward,” Vallone said. “It’s illegal to do this and it’s cruel to the animal. It could be dangerous to a child.”
Pastore said the reptile had not been flushed down a toilet and was not living in the sewers as urban legend dictates. But it is illegal to keep alligators as pets, police said.
The alligator, who has not yet been named, was picked up by Animal Care and Control officers after an Astoria resident called police.
Pastore said the creature, who is being held in Brooklyn, would not have posed much of a threat to residents.
“The teeth are small, so it could have punctured the skin if someone put its finger near the mouth,” he said.
He said the agency catches three to four alligators each year in the five boroughs, but no crocodiles.
The alligator will likely be taken to a reptile sanctuary in Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains, where visitors will be able to view him, by the end of the week.
Meanwhile, he has been enjoying his stay at Animal Care and Control’s Brooklyn site, where he has been fed steak for breakfast and kept in a room filled with kittens and a tegu, a lizard genus that hails from South America.
Pastore said the alligator has been loving the attention and posing for pictures.
“He’s been very cooperative,” he said.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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