Loose Alligator Reported in Iowa Turns Out to Be Life-Size Plush Toy

The Animal Rescue League of Iowa was called to a Des Moines apartment complex earlier this week after it was reported that a four to five-foot alligator was on the loose. What they found, however, was something quite a bit more cuddly.

According to ARL Animal Services, the reptile in question wasn't a reptile at all. Instead of a real alligator, the officer at the scene was met by a life-sized stuffed animal.

"Our Animal Services Officers respond to calls about wildlife every day, but a call yesterday was a little EXTRA wild -- a 4-5-foot alligator!" posted ARL Animal Services on their Facebook page. "Residents of a Des Moines apartment complex walked out and were startled to see a large reptile resting in the parking lot," they explained. The residents then "immediately reported it and waited anxiously until our Animal Services Officer arrived"

"While their fear was real, the alligator, it turns out, was not."

Alligator Plush Toy
Iowa's ARL Animal Rescue Team thought they were responding to reports of a loose alligator. Instead, they found a life-sized plush toy. ARL Animal Services/Facebook

"The large stuffed alligator is now safe in the care of ARL Animal Services," they added.

A photo of the stuffed toy shows a surprising likeness to a real gator, making the residents' confusion and fear a bit more understandable. The plush toy appears several feet in length and even features the creatures' classic brown-green patterning. From a distance, it's plausible that the toy could be mistaken for the real thing.

As KSOM reported in 2020, alligators have been spotted in Iowa, but it's an extremely rare occurrence. The creatures prefer to make their homes in states with coastal wetlands like North Carolina, Florida, and Texas. So, if an alligator were to be spotted in Iowa, it would likely be someone's pet gator that had escaped.

The Facebook post has received an outpouring of response, with hundreds of reactions and dozens of comments. Some found the unlikely story "unbelievable" while others simply wrote that the false alarm "crack[ed] [them] up."

The news comes less than a month after a similar snafu took place in Poland. In April, a Krakow woman called the local animal welfare society after spotting a mysterious, unidentified animal in a tree. "He's been sitting in a tree across the block for two days!" she said. "People don't open windows because they're afraid it's going to enter their house!"

Once a member of an animal rescue team investigated the scene, he discovered that the "poor guy has no legs or head." Upon closer inspection, however, he realized that the creepy creature was merely a stray croissant. The animal rescuer theorized that the pastry had been thrown out of a nearby window, possibly to feed the area's birds.