Monday, July 7, 2014

Caiman caught in High Park

TORONTO - Dozens watched as a 60-centimetre caiman was captured in a High Park pond Monday.

A type of alligator not native to Canada, the caiman would likely not have fared well, especially at night, said Toronto Animal Services spokesman Fiona Vendam.

“In the long run, they wouldn’t withstand the cold,” she said. “Once it got cold at night, they would die.”

The caiman was initially captured on video by High Park resident Teghan Stadnyk. Her brother later posted the video to YouTube and Reddit, where it circulated and attracted media attention.

Stadnyk said she spotted the reptile in a narrow body of water next to Grenadier Pond on Sunday afternoon.

“I was just in my backyard and we saw it floating there,” the 28-year-old said. “He splashed around and moved around a little and that was about it.”

She only saw one in the water and it appeared to be the length of an adult’s arm.

“I think it might be somebody’s pet,” Stadnyk said.

Animal Services spokesman Tammy Robbinson said there’s a good chance it’s an abandoned illegal pet.

“They’re not natural to Canada, so that would be our best guess,” she said. “If you could remind people to never release animals into the wild, that would be great.”

The caiman is in good shape after being fished out of the water by experts from Reptilia, a reptile zoo in the GTA, according to animal services.

Reptilia manager Cheryl Sheridan said the caiman is native to South and Central America and could “get up to as much as eight feet long” over two decades, but would likely be smaller.

The next step is to find a suitable home for the reptile “so that he can hopefully grow up and hopefully help to educate people maybe on why they’re not the best pets and educate them about the conservation of their species,” Sheridan said.
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