Legendary Alligator Saturn – Rumored To Be Hitler's Pet – Dies In Moscow Aged 84

An American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). Shutterstock/chloe7992.

An alligator that was long-rumored to be Adolf Hitler's pet (which is likely to be untrue) has died in a Moscow zoo at the age of 84.

Saturn the alligator had an eventful life. He was born in Mississipi, USA, in 1936 before being taken to Germany, where he lived in the Berlin Zoo. This wasn't the ideal time to grow up in Germany, even if you're largely unaware of what's going on by virtue of being an alligator.

During the war, the zoo was hit by bombardments from Allied forces, especially during the "Battle of Berlin" campaign in 1945, one of the last major offensives of World War II. Buildings were damaged during the raids as it was hit with more than 1,000 incendiary bombs. Animals were injured and killed and their enclosures obliterated. While the aquarium was destroyed on November 23, Saturn the alligator survived and lived through the rest of the war. He was one of only 96 animals out of 16,000 at the zoo that did.

Saturn in his Moscow home.

In July 1946, Soviet soldiers took Saturn from Berlin to Moscow zoo, where he lived out the rest of his life, with zookeepers describing him as "a very peaceful character" apart from one incident "in 1970, when he almost bit off the arm of a young guard who was too inexperienced and tried to feed him out of his hand."

It was when he was first moved to Moscow that urban legends began to circulate that Saturn had once belonged to Adolf Hitler himself. 

"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 confirming his death, adding “animals are not involved in war and politics and it is absurd to blame them for human sins," just in case anybody (you know how comment sections on the Internet can be) was worried the animal himself was acting on behalf of the Nazis during his time in Berlin.

The zoo said they were honored to have kept the "choosy" eater for the remaining 74 years of his life, and described how he had a good memory for his favorite keepers and loved to be massaged with a brush.

"It is a great happiness that each of us could look into his eyes, [or] just quietly be near [him]," they wrote. "He saw many of us as children. We hope that we did not disappoint him."

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