Sun, 07 Jun 2020

The Moscow City Zoo has announced the death of Saturn, an 83-year-old alligator who had been part of the zoo's collection since 1946.

The zoo made the announcement in an Instagram post on May 23, saying Saturn had died the previous day.

The lifespan of a American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) in the wild is about 30-50 years.

Saturn was born in the United States in 1936. He was almost immediately handed over to the Berlin Zoo. On November 23, 1943, Saturn escaped the zoo during an Allied bombing raid on the German capital.

It is unknown how he survived the next three years, but in 1946, he was captured by British troops and handed over to Soviet forces, who transferred him to the Moscow Zoo in July 1946.

An urban myth soon developed that Saturn had been part of a personal menagerie owned by Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

'Saturn represents an entire era for us,' the zoo's post said, noting that he had been in the zoo's collection for 74 years. 'We say that without the slightest exaggeration. He arrived shortly after Victory [in World War II] and celebrated the 75th anniversary of Victory Day with us.... He saw many of us when we were children. We hope we didn't disappoint him.'

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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