An Oakbrook Terrace woman has been charged with animal cruelty and reckless conduct after leaving a baby alligator to fend for itself at O'Hare International Airport in November.
Alexis T. Prokopchuk, 29, of the 17400 block of West Eisenhower Road in the western suburb, was charged with animal cruelty and reckless conduct, both misdemeanors after she was arrested around noon Tuesday in the 100 block of North Ashland Avenue in Chicago, according to police. She was ordered held on $5,000 bail.
"Allie,'' as the 25-inch gator was dubbed, was spotted underneath an escalator in the lower level of Terminal 3 on Nov. 1. It was in poor condition, suffering from soft bones from a improper diet, among other things, authorities said at the time.
Police managed to whisk it into a box and Allie was transferred to the care of the Chicago Herpetological Society.
Prokopchuk had been spotted on surveillance cameras on the CTA Blue Line holding the gator and then entering the lower level of Terminal 3, where she let it loose, according to a police report.
Prokopchuk told officers she and her ex-boyfriend took the gator from a friend who was going to flush it down the toilet, the report said.
Then, on Nov. 1, she "was so (high) on crack cocaine and heroin and had taken some pills," that she lost the gator after coming to the airport, the report said.
A traveler going down the escalator spotted a "very lethargic'' Allie and grabbed an O'Hare custodian, who called police about 10 a.m. that morning. Authorities said it would "need time to recover."
Alligators like Allie normally live in temperatures of 85 to 90 degrees and can grow up to four feet and have the same life expectancy of humans.
Prokopchuk is due back in Branch 23 on Jan. 30.
Rosemary Regina Sobol
January 22, 2014