Officials: This woman may know why alligator was found at Chicago’s O’Hare

Posted at 6:30 AM, Nov 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-13 08:30:50-05

By Lateef Mungin

(CNN) — Take a good look at this woman.

She may be able to answer a question that’s been vexing Chicago officials: Who left a tiny, little alligator at the O’Hare International Airport? And why?

The toothy reptile caused quite a stir and made headlines around the country when it was found at the airport November 1.

Security guard Tineka Walker was on patrol at Terminal 3 that day when a passenger alerted her to a gator squirreling around under an escalator.

“I looked, I said, ‘What?'” Walker told CNN affiliate WBBM. “They probably realized they couldn’t take it through the checkpoint, and just let him go, but, oh my God!”

Walker radioed police for backup. The creature was only about 18 inches long. An airport worker used a broom and dustpan to capture it.

The gator garnered quite a response. The incident was reported in publications from Los Angeles to Washington D.C., all asking the same question: what was a reptile doing at an airport?

The Chicago Transit Authority and police devised a plan to find out.

Transit officials said they used a photo posted on social media that showed a woman holding a small alligator on one of its train on November 1 to help jumpstart their investigation.

They scoured images from the system’s 3,600 cameras and was able to track the woman’s trip. At 1:17 a.m., cameras captured the woman on a train holding the alligator and showing it to passengers, transit officials say.

An hour later, the same woman was seen leaving the train at an airport station. About 30 minutes later, the woman was captured at “the turnstiles of the O’Hare rail station, this time without the reptile in view,” transit officials said.

Now, transit official have a message for the woman.

“Those responsible for this act can face a misdemeanor charge of cruel treatment of an animal or face a fine $300 to $1,000 for cruelty to animals for abandoning the animal in a public place,” they said.

As for the alligator, don’t expect a reunion any time soon.

It was handed over to the Chicago Herpetological Society and was destined for a new life at a luxurious reptile park.

CNN’s Alan Duke contributed to this report.

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