13 times wild animals ended up in places they shouldn't be

tlakritz@insider.com (Talia Lakritz)
possum office

Bree Blakeman

  • Sometimes, animals end up in places where they're not supposed to be.
  • An alligator was spotted in Chicago's Humboldt Park Lagoon.
  • A mountain lion once tried to enter a casino in Reno, Nevada.
  • A kangaroo was seen hopping across a bridge in Grand Chute, Wisconsin.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

An alligator was spotted cruising down Chicago's Humboldt Park Lagoon last year — but it wasn't the first time a wild animal turned up far away from its natural habitat.

Here are 13 times animals were found places where they didn't belong.

A possum broke into an Australian professor's office and looked very sorry about it.

possum office

Bree Blakeman

Bree Blakeman

Dr. Bree Blakeman thought someone had broken into her office at the Australian National University in Canberra when she first walked in, but it turned out her intruder was more scared than she was. An Australian bushtail possum had gotten into Blakeman's office through a ceiling tile and was hiding behind her computer monitor. 

The possom eventually made its own way out after two days of living in her office.

An alligator was spotted in Chicago's Humboldt Park Lagoon and was later apprehended.

alligator water


An alligator estimated to be four or five feet long was spotted in Humboldt Park Lagoon last summer, according to the Chicago Tribune. Animal control set out traps to capture the alligator. A local volunteer known as "Alligator Bob," who has helped officials catch wayward animals before, also searched for it among lily pads in his canoe.

A resident of Humbolt Park told the Tribune that people often dump animals that they no longer want to take care of into the lagoon, so it's possible that the alligator was illegally owned by someone who released it there.

The alligator, dubbed "Chance the Snapper," was eventually apprehended.

Little blue penguins kept returning to a sushi shop in Wellington, New Zealand.

Little Blue Penguin


RNZ News reported that little blue penguins repeatedly wandered into Sushi Bi, a sushi shop near Wellington railway station in New Zealand, last summer. They had apparently found a favorite spot by the warmth of the kitchen's grill.

Jack Mace, operations manager at the Department of Conservation, told RNZ that the penguins were likely scouting out places to lay eggs.

An alligator climbed up to the second floor of an apartment complex in Naples, Florida.


Rob Carr/Getty Images

While alligators are native to Florida, they're not native to apartment buildings. A 5-foot-long alligator made its way up to the second floor of an apartment complex in Naples on Wednesday, the Miami Herald reported. It likely came from the lake behind the building.

Professional alligator trapper Ray Simonsen nabbed the rogue animal and told the Herald that it would find a new home on a farm.

A polar bear ended up lost in the suburbs of Siberia, Russia, over 300 miles from home.

polar bear

Nagel Photography/Shutterstock

CNN reported that a polar bear wandered into the Siberian suburb of Norilsk in June 2019, around 310 miles away from the coast where the species normally lives.

How did it end up there? One possibility is that polar bears have to travel farther to find food due to melting ice caused by climate change.


A mountain lion was seen roaming in Des Moines, Iowa.

mountain lion

Liz Miller/Shutterstock

A mountain lion was seen roaming near downtown Des Moines, Iowa, last year, according to AP News. It's not the first mountain lion spotted there, either — police shot a mountain lion in northern Des Moines in 2012.

A kangaroo reportedly hopped across a bridge in Grand Chute, Wisconsin.

kangaroo crossing


In June 2019, police in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, responded to a caller who said there was a kangaroo hopping across a bridge on Interstate 41. Officers said they were "unable to locate any marsupials," according to the Appleton Post-Crescent. 

Another earlier kangaroo sighting didn't end well. In November 2018, a kangaroo was hit and killed by a car in Waukechon, Wisconsin, after it jumped over its owner's fence.

A mountain lion tried to enter a casino in Reno, Nevada.

mountain lion

Ondrej Chvatal/Shutterstock

When a 75-pound-lion tried to enter Harrah's Hotel Casino's revolving door in Reno, Nevada, in 2012, police closed down the surrounding streets until it was tranquilized and apprehended, KOLO 8 News reported. 

A black bear was removed from a tree along the New Jersey Turnpike.

louisiana black bear

Gerald Herbert/AP Images

NJ.com reported that when a black bear climbed a tree along the New Jersey Turnpike in 2011, it had to be removed by firefighters and wildlife officials because it began to draw a crowd in a high-traffic area. The nearly 300-pound bear took two hours to extricate from the tree and was released into the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area.

An elephant was found wandering in Westtown, New York, about 70 miles from New York City.

elephants botswana

Mike Hutchings/Reuters

New York state troopers found an elephant walking around Westtown, New York, a town about 70 miles away from New York City, in November 2018. Fox News reported that the animal had escaped from a wildlife sanctuary and was returned by the state troopers.


After eluding wildlife officials for three years, a monkey was finally caught in St. Petersburg, Florida.

rhesus macaque monkey

Szymon Mucha/Shutterstock

A rhesus macaque monkey managed to elude Florida authorities for three years before it was finally caught in St. Petersburg in 2012. Wildlife trapper Vernon Yates told CBS News that it was "one of the most intelligent monkeys that I think I have ever seen."

A flamingo that escaped a Wichita, Kansas, zoo was spotted eight years later living in the Gulf of Mexico 670 miles away.


Paul Hanna/Reuters

The Chicago Tribune reported that eight years after an African flamingo escaped a zoo in Wichita, Kansas, it was seen 670 miles away in the Gulf of Mexico. It had also found a companion. 

The flamingo was still wearing a leg band from the Wichita zoo, but the zoo's bird curator told the Tribune that he's happy that the bird is thriving in the wild and has no intention of returning it to captivity.

Rusty the red panda escaped from the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC.

Red Panda

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Rusty the red panda had only been in the Smithsonian National Zoo for a few weeks when he went missing in 2013, according to The Washington Post. He was found later that afternoon in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC, when someone spotted him and tweeted a photo.

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