Competition to name Chew Valley Lake's alligator

By Chew Valley Gazette in Environment

The discovery of a 2-foot alligator-like reptile at Chew Valley Lake has brought national attention to the area and now a competition has been launched to name Chew’s caiman celebrity.

Chew Valley Lake Sailing Club has announced that they are holding a competition to name the reptile, which has been identified as a caiman, after it was found by a Bristol Water engineer on the shores of the lake on Friday 4th August.

"We thought our new ‘celebrity visitor’ should have a name-although we’re presently not sure of its gender," explained the club. "There’s a prize to be snapped up for the best name."

When the news of the caiman’s discovery made local and then national headlines Chew Valley Lake Sailing Club announced they were implementing special safety measures.

Commodore Rob Mitchell explains: ‘’On a typical weekend we might have up to 500 members at the Club and although swimming is not allowed boats will often capsize either unintentionally in a breeze or for training purposes in little wind.

"As one of the leading Sailing Clubs in the UK we have a number of measures in place to ensure that our sailors our safe. However, despite all our precautionary measures and numerous health and safety initiatives, nothing has quite prepared us for the possible arrival of alligators!

"This is our 50th Anniversary year at the Lake and we are hoping that this celebrity visit is just a one off. However as an extra measure we will be asking our dedicated safety boat crews to keep an eye out for what might look like just floating logs on the water. It might be Chew by name but let’s hope it’s not Chew by nature!"

The young reptile has been identified as a caiman, an alligator crocodilian predator normally founded in Central and South America. The average length of a full grown caiman is 2.5m (8.2 ft) and can weigh up to 40 kg. After being discovered by Bristol Water the baby caiman was sent to the RSPCA before being re-homed to Crocodiles of the World, the UK’s only dedicated crocodile zoo. Staff at the zoo who have now inspected the caiman believe he could not have been at the lake as the Amazonian predator would not survive more than a few days in the lake’s cold climate.

It is thought that the caiman was dumped at the lake, and with laws on keeping caiman’s heavily regulated it is thought that the caiman is unlicensed. The RSPCA say they believe that the person who abandoned the caiman at the lake has broken the Dangerous Wild Animal act which requires all animals like caiman are kept under license obtained by the local authority.

Nominations for the alligator’s name should be sent to: vice-commodore@chewvalleysailing.org.uk by Friday 11th Aug.

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