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Meter-long predatory fish bites woman in mall fishpond

Agriculture Ministry investigating how torpedo-shaped alligator gar, illegal in Israel, got into the pond

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

A alligator gar that was found in an Israeli  shopping mall's ornamental fishpond, August 2021. (Agriculture Ministry)
A alligator gar that was found in an Israeli shopping mall's ornamental fishpond, August 2021. (Agriculture Ministry)

The Agriculture Ministry is investigating how a meter-long alligator fish got into an ornamental fishpond at a shopping mall in central Israel, where it managed to bite a woman who dipped her hand into the water.

The alligator gar, so called because of the resemblance of its snout and long, sharp teeth to an alligator’s, is one of the biggest freshwater fish in North America, reaching lengths of up to three meters. Found mainly in the southern US, it feeds mainly on fish, but also on waterfowl, turtles and small mammals.

Owning such a species is a criminal offense in Israel.

The specimen at the shopping mall has been removed.

A few days before a complaint was submitted to the ministry’s hotline, the alligator gar at the shopping mall bit a woman after she had dipped her fingers into the fishpond. Apparently, she was not badly hurt.

A ministry spokeswoman said she could not divulge the exact location of the shopping mall while the investigation was ongoing.

Haggai Neuberger of the ministry’s Fisheries Division warned that this fish not only could be dangerous to humans but could harm Israel’s biodiversity if it reached natural bodies of water.

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