Is there a caiman lurking in High Park?
Something's lurking in High Park's West Pond. Something reptilian. Something definitely not native to Canada. Local resident Teghan Stadnyk, whose backyard faces the small body of water also known as Catfish Pond, says she saw what appeared to be a caiman--a type of reptile related to the alligator--swimming in the shallow water around 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
"Me and my friend were just hanging out and he saw something and was like 'oh my gosh, is that a crocodile,'" she says. "We just went and sat and watched it for half an hour and it stood just still for a while and then swam around and made some biting motions. It's pretty fascinating--I've never seen anything like that before."
Caimans are a type of amphibious carnivore native to Central and South America. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica: "The largest of these species is the black caiman, a potentially dangerous animal attaining a maximum length of about 4.5 metres. The other species normally attain lengths of about 1.2-2.1 metres, with a maximum of about 2.7 metres in the spectacled caiman."
Stadnyk says the creature was about the size of an adult's arm, but it has vanished since last night's heavy rain.
"I've seen a beaver [in the pond] before but nothing as unusual as this so I think maybe someone did probably just drop a pet and it grew--a whole lot."
UPDATE: CAIMAN CAUGHT. Toronto Animal Services and the Toronto police marine unit have safely bagged the beastie. It will be taken to a reptile sanctuary and later placed a new home. It's safe to go back in the water... for now.
Here's the video.
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.
Photo of a different caiman by Lea Maimone