An alligator that was stolen from a Texas zoo as an egg was found in a women’s backyard and returned to captivity.
In a social media post on March 7, Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo says a former volunteer took an alligator egg or hatchling twenty years ago and kept the animal as a pet.
“We got a call from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department about an alligator someone apparently has had in their possession for over 20 years now,” said a staff member in the video shared on Facebook.
“Here in Texas, though, the possession of alligators is really regulated,” he continued. The former volunteer was unable to obtain the permits necessary to keep the alligator. In early February, a judge ordered the alligator, named Tewa, to be re-homed.
“Being that technically we are the rightful owners of that alligator, we were their first phone call,” the employee said. “We were able to go out to this lady’s place about 50 miles from here, capture this alligator, bring her in, and introduce her to the rest of our group out here – where she is going to live out the rest of her life.”
Texas Game Wardens spokesperson Jen Shugert told NBC News that a warden investigating possible illegal hunting “stumbled upon the alligator” on the property in the Austin area.
“The game warden who responded to this alligator situation, this was her first alligator call,” said Game Wardens spokesperson Jen Shugert.
The volunteer who took the alligator has not been publicly identified. The Texas Game Wardens said she was issued two citations which are punishable by up to a $500 fine.
The American Alligators are classified as protected game animals by the Texas Parks and Wildlife. The species was considered to be on the verge of extinction when Texas enacted complete protection in 1969.
“Under this protection, along with Federally implemented regulations eliminating unregulated alligator hide markets in the United States, the species has made a full recovery and was delisted from the status of endangered in 1985,” notes Texas Parks and Wildlife. “American alligators normally avoid humans, but American alligators can become perceived as a nuisance when they establish territories around people. As human populations in Texas continue to expand, there have been an increased number of encounters between people and alligators.”
The agency warned that alligators can prey on pets and are “capable of running quickly over short distances.”
Their bodies reach between 6 feet and 14 feet in length.