The zoo said in an online statement that the alligator, Saturn, was a picky eater who loved getting massaged with a brush. Saturn was given the “the utmost care and attention,” the zoo said.
When Saturn was born in the United States in 1936, he was gifted to the Berlin Zoo “almost immediately,” the statement said.
The Berlin Zoo was hit during several bombing raids in World War II, and in 1943 the facility was destroyed by one, killing many of the animals and releasing the others. It’s unclear where Saturn was for the next three years.
In 1946, Saturn was gifted by British forces in Berlin to the Soviets, who delivered the gator to the Moscow Zoo.
“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 its news release.
No direct connection between Saturn and Hitler has ever been substantiated.
Even if the alligator had belonged to Hitler, the zoo said, “animals are not involved in war and politics. It is absurd to blame them for human sins.”
The oldest alligator in captivity is another WWII survivor, Muja, gifted to the Belgrade Zoo in Serbia in 1936, according to the Guinness World Records. Muja was already an adult at the time and is believed to be in his 90s.
Alligators in the wild typically live up to the age of 50.