Mirror

'Hitler's alligator' dies in Moscow Zoo after British troops found him in 1945

Mirror logo Mirror 24/05/2020 02:59:00 Will Stewart

a reptile on a rock: Saturn the alligator was a star attraction at Berlin Zoo before the Second World War © RigelusSaturn the alligator was a star attraction at Berlin Zoo before the Second World War An alligator rumoured to have belonged to Adolf Hitler has died at Moscow Zoo.

The 84-year-old reptile was found by British soldiers in Berlin after the Second World War and handed to the Red Army.

Called Saturn, the alligator was taken to the Soviet capital and lived at Moscow Zoo since 1946.

Known to have been a pre-war star attraction at Berlin Zoo in Nazi Germany, the story also circulated that the reptile had been in the Führer's personal pet collection, as suggested by famous Russian writer Boris Akunin.

Dmitry Vasilyev, a veterinarian at Moscow Zoo, said there was no doubt that Hitler admired the alligator.

Saturn lived until the 75th anniversary of Hitler's defeat earlier this month.

Adolf Hitler wearing a uniform posing for a picture: The animal was rumoured to belong to Adolf Hitler's personal pet collection © Provided by MirrorThe animal was rumoured to belong to Adolf Hitler's personal pet collection

The alligator was born in the wild in Mississippi in 1936 before being caught and shipped to Berlin Zoo

There is mystery over the Saturn's whereabouts after Berlin was bombed from November 1943.

He was eventually found by British soldiers three years later.

One theory is he "hid in basements, dark corners and sewage drains", another that he was in the menagerie of a senior Nazi.

a group of people standing in front of a building: The alligator lived out its days in Moscow Zoo after the war © Nail ZabaidullinThe alligator lived out its days in Moscow Zoo after the war

In the early 1990s, Saturn witnessed the Soviet collapse and reports said he had "tears in his eyes" when tanks shot the nearby Russian parliament because it "reminded him of the bombing of Berlin".

Saturn was the longest resident of Moscow Zoo, several times cheating death.

A slab of concrete fell from his the alligator's aquarium in the 1980s narrowly missing him.

A cruel visitor threw a stone at his head - requiring months of medical care.

When a new aquarium was built, Saturn went on hunger strike for four months in protest.

He did the same in 2010 - for a year - but eventually started eating again.

An obituary by Moscow Zoo said: "Saturn is a whole era for us.

"This is not the slightest exaggeration.

"He arrived after the Victory (in the war) - and met its 75th anniversary.

"It is a great happiness that each of us could look into his eyes.

"He saw many of us as children.

"We hope we did not disappoint him."

Pictures: World War II: 83 photos from the European theater

24. toukokuuta 2020 5:59:00 Categories: Associated Press Mirror

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