Rumors and a photo of an alligator swimming through Camden Lake drew crowds to Elk Grove over the weekend, but state officials say people who swamped the nearby residential neighborhood were chasing a reptile thousands of miles away.
A Shutterstock video surfaced over the weekend with images identical to the viral shot posted to Facebook by Elk Grove resident Karen Keeslar last Thursday. Keeslar’s post, captioned “I think an alligator is swimming in the lake in my neighborhood park,” appears to have been deleted as of Monday morning.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife agents searched the area around Camden Lake and set traps for the elusive reptile, spokeswoman Kirstin Macintyre said. In the end, they determined the reports were “a hoax.”
“We’ve seen no credible evidence that there is or ever was an alligator in Camden Lake,” Macintyre said in a statement.
Phone numbers listed under Keeslar’s name appeared to be outdated. She told Fox40 that she stood by her original picture despite the similarities, and that her neighbors had seen the animal as well.
“Like why would anybody make up a joke like that? It’s crazy,” she told Fox40.
Alligators are not native to California, though one popped up on a Delta riverbank in 2007. A Southern California man was arrested last July after a raid of his home turned over dozens of illegally owned gators, cobras and other reptiles.
Benjy Egel: (916) 321-1052, @BenjyEgel