Visitors spotted the wild animal peeking its head above the water at the park, located in Chicago's West Side, on Tuesday and Chicago police say they began investigating unconfirmed reports on social media about the alligator shortly after these initial sightings, according to Fox News.
"During an early morning shoot, we encountered an alligator ..."
Local photographer Rencie Horst-Ruiz was in the park around 6.30am when she was called over to the lagoon by another resident.
The presence of the gator was eventually confirmed by Anthony Guglielmi, the chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department, late Tuesday after the department received reports from local residents who had spotted the reptile.
City officials say alligator traps are being placed around the lagoon in hopes the animal will swim into one and be safely removed.
American alligators normally live in freshwater wetlands and marshes in the Southeastern United States. "We thought it would be a toy or something".
Authorities aim to have the animal, estimated to be four to five feet (1.2-1.5 meters) long, humanely trapped and relocated to a zoo for veterinary evaluation, Guglielmi said.
Richard Crowley, president of the Chicago Herpetological Society, told CNN he believes the reptile was brought to the lagoon, possibly by someone who owned it illegally (it's illegal to own an alligator in the state of Illinois).
Investigators have not determined how the gator got into the lagoon and the animal had not been trapped as of 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Bartoli told The Post in an email.
The beach is now open and there are no closures.
"The alligator is still very shy", said Crowley, explaining it was likely once a pet and was still getting used to its new surroundings.
'I thought somebody obviously came to park yesterday and let this thing out, ' Charlie Rizzo stated. Or just plain insane?
An alligator has taken up residence in a Chicago lagoon, surprising locals after a winter of polar temperatures in the third-largest US city.