May 27, 2020

Alligator Tears


Alligator Tears
"Alas, poor Saturn!" Ianaré Sévi, Wikimedia Commons

A beloved American alligator at the Moscow Zoo passed away of old age earlier this week. Saturn was 84 when he died on May 23.

Normally, this wouldn't merit much commentary (except for his incredible life span: alligators typically live 30-50 years). Yet Saturn led a remarkable life, especially for an amphibious reptile.

Born in 1936 in the US, Saturn spent much of his early life in the Berlin Zoo. He escaped the zoo during an Allied bombing raid in 1943 and was discovered in Berlin by British troops in 1946. He was then handed over to the Soviets, and was transferred to his final home, the Moscow Zoo. A rumor soon developed that he had belonged to Adolf Hitler personally.

The fact that Saturn passed away just a few weeks after the 75th Victory Day celebration was not lost on the Moscow Zoo, which reported the passing of Saturn in an Instagram post. "Saturn was an entire era for us," they wrote, "He arrived after the Victory, and was with us 75 years."

Saturn was reportedly a picky eater and enjoyed being massaged with a brush; hearing tanks roll by the zoo may have given him war flashbacks.

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