FORT WAYNE, Indiana (WANE) — Lizards and reptiles roaming around the streets are what you may expect in the game Jumanji, but recently it happened twice in northeast Indiana.
First, Sunday night, an alligator was spotted crossing a road in Roanoke. Two vehicles stopped when they saw it crossing the road around 11 pm. One of the men caught it and taped its mouth, that’s when an officer stopped to help until Animal Care and Control were able to respond.
The Roanoke Town Marshal, Jim Wood, tells WANE 15 that there is nothing illegal about owning an alligator in Indiana or in Roanoke, as long as the reptile is under 4 feet long. The alligator that was caught was around 18″ and has since been claimed and returned to the owner.
The second reptile is a crocodile monitor, which was found climbing a pole in the area of Hessen Cassel and Frosch Drive. Once it was caught it was taken to Fort Wayne animal care and control Monday.
Crocodile monitors are very rare and are usually located in Indonesia and can grow to be one of the largest lizards in the world. They have the ability to climb trees with their long and sharp claws.
Exotic animals getting out is not all that uncommon according to Joe Smith, the Director of Animal Programs at Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, “Unfortunately without state legislation that restricts ownership of exotic pets, it happens more often than we like. There are a lot of dangerous and potentially dangerous animals that can be found out there in private hands and often times when they get too big or the owners can no longer take care of them there’s not a place to put them. So sometimes they get released into the wild and unfortunately they are not going to survive our winters here.”
The monitor has been deemed a “Dangerous Exotic” animal and Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control are working with the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, as to where it will be transferred.
“All the animals in zoos that are accredited are heavily managed. We make sure that we have spaces for the animals, that we have under our care. and that we are maintaining genetic diversity,” explained Smith, “So it’s not an animal that we can take care of at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo but we have offered to reach out to other zoo professionals to see if one of the other zoos might be interested in acquiring this monitor.”