340-Kg Pet Alligator Seized From Home, Used To Swim With Children

The owner said he took care of the reptile better than most people take care of their children.

An 11-foot 340-kg kg alligator, which was being kept illegally at a home in Florida, was seized by Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs). In a Facebook post, authorities said that “the owner of the home had built an addition to his house and installed an in-ground swimming pool for his roughly 30-year-old alligator, and allegedly allowed members of the public to get into the water to pet the unsecured alligator”. The reptile’s name is Albert, according to CNN-affiliate WKBW.

“I’m Albert’s dad, that’s all there is to it. He’s like family to everybody,” his owner Tony Cavallaro told the outlet after the seizure on Wednesday.

Mr Cavallaro told WKBW his license to own Albert had expired in 2021 and he tried unsuccessfully to renew it with the Department of Environmental Conservation.

But authorities said it is illegal to keep an alligator at home. “Even if the owner was appropriately licensed, public contact with the animal is prohibited and grounds for license revocation and relocation of the animal,” the department told WKBW.

New York Post said that Mr Cavallaro invited children from his neighbourhood to swim with the alligator.

The homeowner “allegedly allowed members of the public to get into the water to pet the unsecured alligator”, it quoted the state Department of Environmental Conservation as saying.

Officials said the alligator had a number of health issue, including blindness in both eyes and spinal complications when it was removed from the home.

The alligator’s owner is fighting to get his pet reptile back.

“As everyone has probably already heard The DEC and SPCA took Albert away from me saying that I put people in harm’s way with him. Everyone who has met Albert or knows Albert knows that this is not true,” he said in an online petition.

“I took care of him better than most people take care of their kids,” the petition further said.

The man is getting strong support on social media from the community. Many of his friends have said that Albert was a gentle alligator who didn’t pose a threat to the people and children he swam with.

Meanwhile, the reptile has been given to a caretaker till a place is found for it.

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