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updated: 1/22/2014 8:15 PM

Suburban woman charged with abandoning alligator at O'Hare

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  • Alexis Prokopchuk

      Alexis Prokopchuk

 
 

An Oakbrook Terrace woman who authorities say abandoned a sickly alligator at O'Hare International Airport in November has been charged with reckless conduct and cruelty to animals, according to Chicago police.

The 2-foot-long alligator, nicknamed Allie, was found Nov. 1 by a maintenance worker under an escalator in Terminal 3, but police and airport officials were stumped as to how it got there.

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A few days after authorities found Allie, a photo circulated showing a person on the CTA Blue Line, which goes to O'Hare, holding an alligator.

Alexis Prokopchuk, 29, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of reckless conduct and one misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals after her arrest on Tuesday, police said.

Prokopchuk appeared in court Wednesday in Chicago, and according to media reports she said she was on drugs when she lost the alligator at the airport. Bail was set at $5,000.

Allie was taken in by the Chicago Herpetological Society and was in bad health at the time, suffering from poor nutrition and metabolic bone disease, according to society President Jason Hood.

Allie remains quarantined in an isolation tank but is expected to make a nearly full recovery, Hood said.

"After being set up in a proper enclosure and warming up from its Halloween night adventure for nine days, it took its first meal and now has started feeding on a regular basis finally," Hood said. "The animal is still very skittish."

People will have an opportunity to see Allie and more than 200 other species of reptiles and amphibians at the Chicago Herpetological Society's ReptileFest April 12 and 13.

At the time Allie was found, Hood said the nonprofit would rehabilitate the animal and then send it to an alligator farm out of state. Illinois weather conditions are not ideal for alligators, which typically live in much warmer climates.

"It's just the unfortunate side of our world that there are people who don't treat animals properly," he said in November.

Not only is it illegal to buy an alligator as a pet, but it's also dangerous, according to the society. While the animals stay small and can be contained in an aquarium for a few years, they will eventually grow and develop large teeth and dangerous tendencies.

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