'Hitler's alligator' dies in Moscow at age of 84

Long-lived reptile named Saturn survived destruction of Berlin Zoo in WWII bombing raid and was gifted to Russia

Peter Stubley
Sunday 24 May 2020 19:46 BST
Footage of alligator 'Saturn' at Moscow Zoo

An alligator who was rumoured to have been Adolf Hitler’s pet has died at the age of 84.

The reptile named Saturn was put on public display in Berlin Zoo after being brought over from the United States in around 1936.

It is not known whether he ever met the German dictator but after the Second World War the myth developed that he had been part of the Fuhrer’s personal collection.

However Saturn's true life story may be even more remarkable.

On 23 November 1943, the zoo was destroyed in a bombing raid and the alligator appears to have escaped the ruined aquarium.

How he survived the rest of the war remains unclear, but in 1946 he was found by British soldiers and handed over to Russia as a gift.

Saturn spent the next 74 years as one of the most popular attractions at Moscow Zoo, surviving on a diet of rabbit, rat and fish.

On Saturday the zoo announced the alligator had died of old age after “a long and eventful life”.

“We tried to take care of the venerable alligator with the utmost care and attention,” it said in a statement.

“He was fussy about food and loved being massaged with a brush. If he didn’t like something, he would gnaw on the concrete decorations.”

The zoo claimed the rumours that he was Hitler’s pet spread soon after he arrived in Moscow in July 1946.

“Almost immediately, the myth was born that he was allegedly in the collection of Hitler, and not in the Berlin Zoo,” the zoo said in a statement.

“However, even if, purely theoretically, he belonged to someone – animals are not involved in war and politics, it is absurd to blame them for human sins.”

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