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Country's only known alligator since 1967 on the brink of death

By Nanjinia Wamuswa | December 2nd 2021

Raphael Edipal, a snake handler, with the ailing alligator at the National Museums of Kenya's Snake Park. [Nanjinia Wamuswa, Standard]

Kenya may not have an alligator to showcase, if the country's only known alligator at the National Museum's Snake Park dies. 

Curators at the museum are worried that they will not be able to replace the terminally ill reptile, which has been in the country since 1967.

Margaret Njeri, a curator at the National Museums of Kenya (NMK), says it is not easy to find another one, since alligators are not African reptiles.

'Mzee Alligator' was donated by a team of American researchers in 1967. [Nanjinia Wamuswa, Standard]

Records at NMK show Mzee Alligator, as he is commonly known at the park, was donated by a team of American researchers in 1967. The reptile became terminally ill on October 29 and has not been eating.

Njeri describes the 2.9-metre-long reptile as a good feeder who consumes 6-10kg of meat every week. “He’s not that aggressive. You can even hold the tail.”

The snake park where the alligator is located was started in 1959 as an attraction site and research facility on reptiles, their breeding habits, skin casting, food and reaction to climate change.

A number of researchers then donated diverse specimens, and that is how the alligator came to Kenya.

'Mzee Alligator' became terminally ill on October 29 and has not been eating. [Nanjinia Wamuswa, Standard]

The alligator is an important animal at the park as it helps in highlighting the differences between a crocodile and an alligator.

“We have been talking to a number of museums in Florida and explained to them our predicament and why it is important for us to get another one,” said Albert Otieno, a senior curator. 

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