News & Politics

There’s a Lot More to the Story of the “DC Alligator”

For starters, it's not an alligator.

On Thursday morning, DC’s police department tweeted that its officers confiscated an alligator while on patrol. But that’s not exactly what happened.

For one thing, the reptile was five feet long. For another, it’s not an alligator: It’s a caiman, a related animal. And the officers didn’t quite stumble across the caiman while on patrol–they confiscated it from a Congress Heights house Wednesday night after the Humane Rescue Alliance received a tip about an exotic animal.

The tip came in two days ago, says David Smith, Humane Rescue Alliance’s spokesperson. The police obtained a search warrant. According to a police report, when police officers and HRA arrived at the house on Brothers Place, Southeast, Wednesday evening it was raining, and the occupants were seated on the porch. Inside, they found the caiman in a covered container that was four feet long and two feet wide.

“We are doing the best we can to take care of the animal until we can find a rescue organization,” Smith says.

The weirdness doesn’t quite end there. One of the images, the police tweeted two, the one of an alligator on a white table appears to be a photo of an alligator found on Long Island last year. A police spokesperson confirmed that photo was not of the caiman. The image of the creature in the blue tub, however, is correct.

Smith could not recall the last time an incident like this occurred in the District. Neither caimans, alligators, nor crocodiles are on DC’s list of allowed pets.

“Exotic animals are prohibited in the District,” Smith said. “I’ll just leave it at that.”