60 Lb. animal found in lake during Phoenix Zoo clean-up

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PHOENIX - A creature straight out of pre-historic times was discovered living in the deep end of the pond outside the front gate of the Phoenix Zoo.

The 62-pound alligator-snapping turtle has jaws that are so powerful, the animal is reportedly capable of snapping off a child's arm or leg.

The animal, which was not part of any zoo exhibit, does not belong anywhere near Arizona. Staff with the Phoenix Herpetological Society said they think someone got tired of having an exotic pet and dumped it in the water.

"He's been living in that Phoenix Zoo pond. We don't know how, long but I'm sure he was eating ducks and fish and other turtles," said Russ Johnson, president of the Phoenix Herpetological Society.

The alligator-snapping turtle was found during a routine survey of the animals living in the pond at the Phoenix Zoo. That survey is meant to deal with animals that don't belong there, like several varieties of turtles, including the alligator snapping turtle.

All of the animals that should not have been in the zoo pond have been safely removed.

During periodic cleanups over the last four years, nearly 600 non-native turtles have been discovered living in the pond.

It's against both federal and state law to release an exotic or non-native animal. There can be hefty fines and even jail time. This animal is not on display at the Phoenix Zoo nor is it available for public viewing.