Saturn, an alligator falsely rumored for decades to have been kept as a pet by Adolf Hitler, has died in captivity at the age of about 84 years old, the Moscow Zoo in Russia announced Saturday.
The Moscow Zoo said in a statement that the alligator died Friday of natural causes at an “extremely respectable age” well beyond the reptile’s average life expectancy of 30 to 50 years.
Born in Mississippi in 1936, Saturn was brought to Germany at an early age and kept for years at the Berlin Zoological Garden allegedly frequented by the notorious former Nazi leader during his lifetime.
Saturn survived a bombing that destroyed the Berlin Zoo during World War II in 1943, was later found by British soldiers and then transferred to the Soviet Union in 1946, according 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 Moscow Zoo noted. “However, even if, purely theoretically, he belonged to someone — animals are not involved in war and politics, it is absurd to blame them for human sins.”
The Moscow Zoo added that it has been an “honor” keeping Saturday for nearly three-quarters of a century and described his passing as an end of an “era.”
“He saw many of us as children. We hope that we did not disappoint him,” the Moscow Zoo said in the statement.
Saturn will be posthumously memorialized at the nearby State Darwin Museum, a natural history museum named for evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin, the Moscow Zoo said in the statement.