It's Not an Alligator, It's a Caiman...and It Was in Cooper River
Oaklyn resident Glenn Hudson checked out a tip from a friend and came home with a 3-foot-long, non-native reptile he plucked from the nearby waterway.
Update, 4:50 p.m., June 6: Patch mea culpa! Please read "It's Not an Alligator, It's--Wait, It IS an Alligator"
SOUTHERN NJ -- What's 3 feet long, looks like an alligator and was living in the Cooper River until about midnight Thursday?
If you guessed "a caiman"—a diminutive member of the order crocodilia that is native to South and Central America—then either you're a really good guesser or you're friends with Glenn Hudson of Oaklyn.
After all, it was Hudson's friend Evelyn Taylor who spotted the reptile while kayaking behind the Hopkins House on South Park Drive in Haddon Township, and called him up.
"I've had a passion—and compassion—all my life for reptiles, amphibians; underdog animals," Hudson says. "I was worried that if I didn't get it someone would view it as a threat," Hudson says.
The potter/photographer/horticulturist spotted the yard-long beast, and then ensnared it by grouping small hooks onto a fishing rod.
"My guess is it was let go," Hudson says. "It has a fat tail, which means it's well-fed.
Yet a cold-blooded, tropical animal would never last a proper New Jersey winter, he says—and that's why he took it home and called the Philadelphia Zoo. They brokered a deal to send it to the Maryland Reptile Sanctuary through a third party, to whom Hudson will deliver the caiman Sunday.
"I'm a big fan of reptiles and I couldn't miss this opportunity," he says.
According to the Born Free USA database, there have only been 13 incidents involving reptiles in New Jersey since 1999 (excluding this one); none occurred within Camden County.