Alligator abandoned at O’Hare Airport gets owner arrested

CHICAGO – The woman who owned an alligator found wandering at O’Hare International Airport in November has been arrested and charged with animal cruelty, CBS Chicago reported.

Alexis Prokopchuk, 29, of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., faces two misdemeanor counts of reckless conduct, and one misdemeanor cruelty count, for abandoning the reptile at the airport on Nov. 1, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.

She says she kept the gator, measuring about two feet long, as a pet.

An airport security officer spotted the wayward creature crawling around Terminal 3.

“I was out there, and a passenger had pointed out that there was an alligator up under here,” Tineka Walker of Universal Security said in November. “I looked, I said, ‘What?’”

Sure enough, there was, so she called for help. City workers caught the alligator using a broom and dustpan - perhaps not your standard alligator trapping technique.

CBS Chicago reported that photos posted on Twitter and Instagram showed the same alligator taking a ride on a city Blue Line train to O’Hare shortly before it was found wandering the terminal. The Transit Authority tracked down Prokopchuk from surveillance images of her boarding the train at the Pulaski station with the alligator.

Officials said the alligator appeared malnourished, and would need about six months of treatment and rehab, because it apparently had not been properly fed, and its growth had been stunted. After rehab, it will likely be given to a reptile par, the station reported.

An official with the Chicago Herpetological Society - which eventually took custody of the reptile - said it was very fortunate it didn’t bite someone.

“What if a little kid grabbed this, thinking it was a toy? That could do a nasty job,” he said.

Prokopchuk’s bail was set at $5,000 on Wednesday, and she is due back in court on Jan. 30.