In Kansas an alligator was discovered in the dead of winter floating dead near a warm water flow from a nuclear plant. The incredible find has led many to wonder what the creature could possibly be doing so far from home, and how it could have learned to use warm water flows to keep itself from freezing to death in the extreme cold weather.
The story sounds like the premise to a B-grade style horror movie, but an alligator actually found refuge in water discarded from the Wolf Creek Nuclear Plant. The waters, with only very slightly elevated radiation, were not directly exposed to radioactive material, but rather passed over a heated chamber which turned to steam and then condensed and cooled back into water again before being siphoned off into the nearby river. Normally the warmer water is thought to be a disrupting force in nature, interfering with natural evolution and disrupting hatcheries and wildlife, but in this case the water turned out to actually be facilitating the survival of an out of place alligator.
But where did the creature come from? Experts suggest it could have been a pet a nearby resident could no longer take care of, and decided to dump in a place the creature would survive until spring when it could return south. Of course the plan was likely less well thought out than that. It could also have been an escaped alligator from a nearby wildlife center. Or could it have been something else?
Stories of Alligators being spotted in Kansas have been blamed on pet owners for over a hundred years. In Olathe County a series of sightings set off a search for the creatures which ultimately led investigators to believe a number of them had escaped from unknown naturalists or eccentric wealthy landowners who had been keeping the creatures. Could it have been that alligators can occasionally survive in Kansas all along? It seems odd that some alligators have been able to survive out of place for so long if moved by human hands, yet not a single wild one has been discovered. It also seems odd that not a single investigation into the dozens of alligator discoveries has been considered.
The entire controversy hinges on the sheer number of alligators spotted even at the most inhospitable times of year. As the contents of the gator’s stomach are analyzed, a more comprehensive understanding will be had of the length of its stay in the wild, and its possible source.
Those in the area have also been spotting other alligators and caught glimpses of things that could later turn out to have been alligators. Although the area where this particular specimen was discovered is primarily traveled by fishermen and not hikers, there have been several sightings reported over the years, and not all could possibly be blamed on one creature. Is there a natural alligator population that ebbs and flows throughout the area, surviving off the warmth of a nuclear power plant in winter?