Alligator who escaped the Nazis and spent three years roaming war-torn Berlin dies aged 84

An alligator who survived World War II after escaping from a bombed Berlin Zoo has died.

Saturn was thought to be 84 years old, "an extremely respectable age" according to Moscow Zoo, where he lived.

British soldiers found him three years after his 1943 escape, and handed him over to Russia.

It was rumoured the Mississippi alligator belonged to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

"Almost immediately after the arrival of the animal, the myth appeared that it was supposedly in Hitler's collection, and not in the Berlin zoo," Interfax news agency reported.

The zoo said even if he did belong to Hitler, he "mustn't be held responsible for human sins".

He died in Moscow Zoo, but how he spent the years between his escape and capture always remained a mystery. Berlin at the time was being ravaged by warfare, and the zoo itself was reportedly hit by multiple bombs. 

"Moscow Zoo has had the honour of keeping Saturn for 74 years," the zoo said.

"For us Saturn was an entire era, and that's without the slightest exaggeration... He saw many of us when we were children. We hope that we did not disappoint him."

When he was first gifted to Moscow Zoo, he was dubbed 'Hitler' - but that was quickly changed to Saturn. He was reportedly quite a peaceful alligator, despite his troubled upbringing.

Mississippi alligators usually live only about 50 years max in the wild. BBC News reports Saturn might even have been the oldest known alligator in the world.