Gator moving from the Oakland Zoo

September 4, 2008 1:01:11 PM PDT
A rehabilitated reptile by the name of Nimitz is on his way to Florida. Nimitz is an alligator found during a drug bust in Union City back in March. He was in poor shape and needed care from the Oakland Zoo to restore his health.

At the Oakland Zoo Thursday morning, it seemed that Nimitz didn't want to leave to catch his flight to Florida. Of course, after the care he received at the zoo, you couldn't blame him.

Police in Union City found Nimitz during a drug bust, in a house not far from the Nimitz freeway - thus the name. He'd been living on hotdogs and hamburgers in a cage so small - he could not turn around in it. But six months of good food and exercise turned Nimitz's life around.

"He acts like how a 4-year-old alligator is supposed to act. He is really active, he is little aggressive - which is good for an alligator of his size, and extremely strong," said Adam Fink, zookeeper.

But with no room at the Oakland Zoo for Nimitz, and with no chance of surviving in the wild because of all those early years in captivity, Nimitz is off to Croc Encounters, a sanctuary in Florida, where Nimitz will meet other crocodiles and alligators with similar experiences.

"Exotic animals don't make good pets. They are dangerous. You can not provide for them properly. The best place for them is either in the wild or in the zoo, where professionals can take care of them," said Fink.

Four-year-old Nimitz may live to be 65; so he'll have decades to serve as the Bay Area's ambassador to Croc Encounters, where visitors will be able to learn a lot about alligators and people from his story.

Right now, Nimitz is five feet long and 30 pounds and is expected to grow up to 10 feet long and 300 pounds. He is scheduled to arrive in Florida sometime Thursday afternoon.


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