A Florida woman is fighting to keep her six-foot-long, clothes-wearing, motorcycle-riding alligator at home with her.
Mary Thorn has had a license for her pet alligator, named Rambo, for 11 years, and keeps him in a bedroom in her home.
However, Rambo recently grew to over six feet, and wildlife officials say that an alligator that size must have access to 2.5 acres of land.
Thorn says that even if she had the land available, Rambo couldn’t go outdoors for long because of his sensitivity to sunlight.
“Everyone will tell you that I treat that animal like a baby,” Thorn told the Orlando Sentinel. “He doesn’t do anything a normal gator does.”
Thorn says Rambo is practically a celebrity in their suburb. She takes Rambo to schools and charity events to teach people about reptiles, and has been given permission to have him out and about without his snout taped shut. She has trained him not to bite, scratch, head butt or swat.
“He loves kids, and when kids come around he shuts his mouth really tight so fingers can’t go in his mouth,” she told the Sentinel.
Thorn says she took ownership of Rambo when he was four years old, and that until then, he had been kept in a dark closet with other alligators.
Florida Wildlife Commission spokesman Gary Morse said the case is under investigation, but because Thorn had Rambo before the 2.5 acre stipulation went into effect, she may be able to keep him.
In the meantime, Thorn has begun reluctantly looking for someone with the necessary space to take ownership of Rambo, but is concerned about what will happen to him if he is exposed to too much sunlight at a zoo.
“I know when he goes there he’s going to be really afraid and he’s probably going to pass away from the stress,” she said.
Thorn is also looking into getting Rambo certified as a therapy animal.
“Without him, I don’t feel like even wanting to go on,” she said.
“Everybody is taking it pretty hard because they know how much I love this gator.”