New Alligator Theory - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

12/28/06 - Lufkin

New Alligator Theory

By Tashun Chism

One of five rare Chinese alligators was discovered missing in December. Still missing, zoo officials feared it had been stolen or had escaped. But now, there's a new theory about the alligator's disapperance.

"We've also been investigating and discussing and looking into the possiblility of if it could have been predation from an ariel predator, like an owl or something," said Celia Falzon, General Curator of the Ellen Trout Zoo.

But some still think that's highly unlikely for a variety of reasons.

"There's some branches overhead, so there's no good, clear flight path into the exhibit for an owl at night. It's cool at night, so the alligators are normally in the water because the water is warm, so that's where they stay at night to keep warm, and an owl's unlikely to go into the water to get prey," Falzon said.

The alligator's disappearance is made worse by the fact that it's so rare, and is considered very expensive. According to Celia Falzon, "It's the most endangered crocodilian species in the world and it's hard to put a dollar figure on it, but basically, we've been saying like $100,000."

Zoo officials say, even though the probability of an ariel predator taking off with the crocodilian is slim, they won't rule anything out until it's found.

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