This undated handout picture released by the Moscow Zoo on Sunday shows the Mississippi alligator 'Saturn' in Moscow Zoo. AFP
According to the zoo, Saturn was born in the United States and later sent to the Berlin Zoo, from which he escaped when the zoo was bombed in 1943. His whereabouts were unknown until 1946, when British soldiers found him and gave him to the Soviet Union, the zoo said.
"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 a statement.
But, it noted, "animals are not involved in war and politics and it is absurd to blame them for human sins.”
When Saturn was brought to Moscow in July 1946, rumours began circulating that he had been part of Adolf Hitler's personal collection, the zoo said.
Keeping Saturn, who was a picky eater and liked being massaged with a brush, had been an "honour," the zoo said.
"He came to us after the victory" over Nazi Germany, it said, "and celebrated the 75th anniversary of that victory with us."
It had been "a great joy" to spend all these years with Saturn, the statement said, adding: "We hope we didn't disappoint him."
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