- An albino alligator was found in an American traveler’s suitcase last month, German officials said.
- The three-foot reptile was swaddled in cling wrap, with only a hole left for its nostrils.
- German officials said they haven’t decided whether the man intended to smuggle the reptile.
Customs authorities said they found a rare albino alligator in the suitcase of an American man in Munich Airport last month, according to German media.
The incident was revealed on October 14 by the Munich customs office, who said the three-foot long alligator is now healthy and being cared for, Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.
Airport staff noticed the alligator when the suitcase was put through an X-ray scanner, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported. They called customs officers and a veterinarian, who freed the animal, per the outlet.
The alligator had been bundled in cling wrap, with a hole cut through the film near its snout so it could breathe, per Süddeutsche Zeitung. According to the outlet, the animal’s life had been in “acute danger” and the veterinarian administered treatment to the alligator.
German authorities have launched criminal proceedings against the 42-year-old man traveling with the alligator, on suspicion of him violating local species protection and animal welfare laws, the outlet wrote.
He was allowed to fly to his destination — Singapore — but was first required to make a five-digit security deposit and surrender his mobile phone in Munich, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.
Munich authorities said there has been no information on whether the passenger intended to smuggle the alligator, Singapore-based newspaper The Straits Times reported.
The Munich Airport and Munich Customs Office did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
Customs officials said an albino alligator can fetch prices of up to $75,000 in some regions, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung. One animal expert told The Straits Times that the animal can be sold for up to $1.4 million on the black market.
Asia is the illegal reptile trade’s main destination or transit destination, with China and Malaysia being the top two countries where live reptiles are seized after being transported from overseas, according to the latest World Wildlife Crime Report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, or UNODC.
Notably, alligators aren’t among the top 10 species traded on the black market, with crocodilians making up only 7.6% of reptiles seized, per the UNODC.