PROSPECT PARK, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A sick 4-foot-long alligator was caught on Sunday in Brooklyn and officials are looking for the person responsible.
A member of the Prospect Park maintenance staff spotted the gator near Duck Island in Prospect Park Lake.
The Parks Department says the alligator was lethargic, perhaps because of the cold. It was also in poor condition.
"Parks are not suitable homes for animals not indigenous to those parks-domesticated or otherwise," an official with NYC Parks said. "In addition to the potential danger to park goers this could have caused, releasing non-indigenous animals or unwanted pets can lead to the elimination of native species and unhealthy water quality. In this case the animal was found very lethargic and possibly cold shocked since it is native to warm, tropical climates."
Officials said the rescue wasn't too difficult given the condition of the alligator and its proximity to the banks.
"And she was pretty close to the edge and it was also very lethargic and slow moving, so it wasn't really you know, a crazy, crazy crocodile wrestling incident where it was fighting her at all and we also lifted pretty easily as well because it wasn't moving very much," said NYC Parks Ranger Sgt. Judith Velosky.
Officials captured the gator and transported it to ACC. It was then transported to the Bronx Zoo for rehabilitation.
"It's just really sad to see it was very emaciated," Velosky said. "Luckily we got it to Animal Care Center pretty quickly and they warmed it up and it started moving. So that was a good sign."
Alligators can grow as large as 11 feet and weigh 1,000 pounds.
"I expected a much smaller animal so I was really surprised at how large it was," Velosky said. "We do get calls about reptiles that are released in to our parks. But never anything this big have I encountered."
Police are trying to figure out who dumped the gator.
"The operating theory is that this was a domesticated pet and someone released it into the lake," said Prospect Park resident Christopher Brunson.
Releasing animals in New York City Parks is illegal. If you see an abandoned animal, the best thing to do is leave the animal where it is and call 311 or locate an Urban Park Ranger in the park.
Urban Park Rangers respond to around 500 reports of animal conditions per year citywide.
ALSO READ | Good Samaritan helps grandmother chase her stolen SUV with grandchild inside
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News