An alligator who survived the bombing of Berlin in 1943 and is rumored to have belonged to Adolf Hitler has died in a Moscow zoo aged 84. "Animals are not involved in wars and politics," the zoo said.
An 84-year-old alligator rumored to have once belonged to German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler died in Russia, the Moscow Zoo announced Saturday.
Saturn the alligator escaped from a Berlin zoo amid Allied bombing on November 23, 1943. The 3.5-meter animal appears to have survived on his own for the remainder of the war until British soldiers discovered him in 1946.
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No-one knows exactly where and how Saturn survived in the intervening years.
He was then transported to a Moscow zoo where he has lived peacefully ever since. Zookeepers say he died of old age.
"Saturn had a long and varied life," the zoo said in a statement. "This is an extremely remarkable age." Alligators in the wild tend to live a maximum of 50 years.
The Moscow Zoo posted a video of Saturn on Twitter. "Moscow Zoo had the honor of keeping Saturn for 74 years. He knew many of us as children. We hope we didn't disappoint him," they wrote.
The rumor that Saturn had belonged to Hitler appears to have first been born after he arrived in Moscow, and has never been proved. Saturn appears to have been born in the United States in 1936 before being moved to Berlin.
"Almost immediately, the myth was born that he was allegedly in the collection of Hitler and not of the Berlin Zoo," the Moscow Zoo said in a statement. The rumor is widespread in Germany as well.
The zoo dismissed the story of Saturn's alleged provenance. "Even if he belonged to someone in theory — animals are not involved in war and politics."
"It is absurd to blame them for human sins," they added.
Some historians have debunked long-held beliefs that Hitler was a strict vegetarian and was kind to animals.
ed/shs (AP, dpa)