An “unathletic” alligator
with “terrible arthritis” managed to stage a three-day breakout, perplexing the owner of a Wisconsin zoo
Steve "Doc" Hopkins, owner of Doc's Zoo at Doc's Harley Davidson in Bonduel, told WLUK over the weekend that he was heartbroken to discover the alligator, Rex, missing from his enclosure Saturday morning, and he had no idea how the elderly gator managed to pull it off.
“The only thing I can think of is that he was pumping iron all through COVID or something and planned his escape,” Hopkins told the station.
“There was no sign of the enclosure being breached in any way, or the gator digging beneath or anything; it's just very strange; this has never happened before.”
On Monday evening, the zoo announced on Facebook
that Rex was safe and sound after Hopkins' son, Steve, discovered him in a swampy area of the zoo complex's woods.
“What an adventure he must have had!” said the post.
Over the phone, a lieutenant with the Shawano County Sheriff's Department confirmed that the alligator was reported missing and found.
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In an earlier post, the zoo assured the public that Rex was typically very docile and not a threat to them; however, he suffers from severe arthritis in his jaws, making it difficult to open his mouth more than an inch.
According to its website and a Facebook post, Doc's Zoo offers sanctuary and long-term care to unwanted pets
and exotic animals
. Hopkins has had Rex for 35 years.