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NEPTUNE, N.J. – Investigators are searching for the person who abandoned a 3-foot-long alligator in a vacant lot in New Jersey.

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The Monmouth County SPCA said in a news release that animal control officers were called to an empty lot in Neptune on Jan. 15 by a good Samaritan who found the reptile. The good Samaritan discovered an alligator inside a plastic tub in the empty lot next to his home.

“It is illegal for New Jersey residents to keep alligators or caimans, which are considered potentially dangerous exotic species,” MCSPCA executive director, Ross Licitra, said in a statement. “Not only is it a danger to the public, but these animals, when kept in captivity, need very specific care that only professionals can provide.”

Alligator found in vacant lot

A good Samaritan found the animal, which had been abandoned.

When the good Samaritan found the alligator, temperatures had dropped below freezing.

“It’s cruelty, absolutely,” Licitra told News12. “They actually just took it, put it outside, and left it there to die. This did not happen as an accident.”

The alligator was brought to the MCSPCA shelter and given a clean tank. The animal will be given to the Cape May Zoo, WNYW reported.