Stolen Alligator Kept as a Pet Returned to Zoo After 20 Years

Stolen Alligator Kept as a Pet Returned to Zoo After 20 Years

An alligator egg that was stolen from a Texas zoo 20 years ago has been returned to Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo in Central Texas. The alligator, named Tewa, was reportedly taken and kept as a pet by a woman whose name has not been released and who investigators say was a volunteer at the zoo.

A zoo spokesman posted a video to Facebook, saying they received a call from Texas Parks and Wildlife who said they had found the missing gator. “We were their first phone call,” a zoo spokesperson said in a video posted to Facebook last week.

The spokesperson said the department called “about an alligator that someone apparently has had in their possession for over 20 years now.” He added that the person was “a volunteer here actually at Animal World and Snake Farm” back then “and apparently stole this alligator.”

The Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo and Texas Parks and Wildlife did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.

Tewa was found 80 km from the zoo and was well cared for, Texas Game Wardens public information officer Jen Shugert and the zoo’s director Jarrod Forthman told USA Today. However, the woman couldn’t meet Texas’ permit requirements which make it illegal to take, purchase, sell, or possess an alligator without a permit.

Forthman told the outlet that the woman said “she stuck (the egg) in her pocket… and walked out the door” while she volunteered at the zoo. “I guess she essentially confessed to stealing it,” Forthman added.

Texas Parks Wildlife warned people in an Instagram post, “Alligators don’t make good pets, y’all,” and confirmed that Tewa is now adjusting well to her new environment at the zoo. Forthman told the outlet that the zoo would allow the woman to visit Tewa as often as she would like.

The woman raised “a nice, happy healthy alligator that just, unfortunately, the law wasn’t going to allow her to have,” Forthman told USA Today. “So we’re going to take care of it and let her come out and see the gator as often as she would like. Whether she… rightfully owned that alligator or not, that’s still her pet that she’s had for decades.”

The zoo said Tewa will live out the remainder of her life at the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo, and although Forthman said the woman could visit her former pet, she is being charged with two misdemeanours for illegal possession of an alligator egg and for possession of an alligator without a permit. If convicted, the woman will face up to a $US500 ($694) fine for each citation.

Texas game wardens thanked the staff at the Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo for their help in relocating Tewa. “With our combined knowledge and experience, the transition was seamless,” the wardens wrote in a Facebook post, adding, “Tewa is one happy [alligator] in her new habitat!”

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