NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (KXAN) — An alligator that was reportedly stolen from a New Braunfels zoo as an egg was returned recently after being located by Texas Parks and Wildlife in a woman’s backyard.
A post by the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo, which is roughly an hour from Austin, said a former volunteer at the zoo appeared to have pocketed an alligator hatchling or egg at least two decades ago, according to its post.
“We got a call from Texas Parks and Wildlife department that someone apparently has had in their possession for over 20 years now, interesting part of this story is evidently they volunteered here,” the video said.
“Either the egg or the hatchling alligator at the time…put it in their pocket and took off and actually kept this thing as a pet,” it continued.
Texas Parks and Wildlife said the alligator had been living illegally in someone’s backyard in Central Texas and had grown to nearly eight feet. The alligator was found roughly 50 minutes from the zoo, staff said.
“Alligators don’t make good pets, y’all,” Parks and Wildlife posted.
A spokesperson confirmed the alligator was found in Caldwell County. The woman who had the alligator will face two misdemeanor charges: one for illegal possession of an alligator egg and the other for possession of an alligator without a permit.
Above video courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife
The alligator will live at the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo for the rest of its life, zoo staff said. It was introduced to the other alligators this week.
“We’ll definitely be inviting the old owner back out, making sure that she knows that her alligator has a great home here,” said Jarrod Forthman, the director of the zoo.
What is required to get an alligator permit in Texas?
According to Benjamin Anderson, who issues some alligator permits through Texas Parks and Wildlife, there is no Texas permit issued for alligators as pets. Where the department does issue alligator permits is for the following:
- Educational display (applicants include higher education institutes, educational nonprofits or government entities)
- Zoological (only issued to entities accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association or are seeking that accreditation and are in compliance with other requirements set forward by the state)
- Scientific permit for research (a bulk to go university researchers or environmental consulting agencies, according to Anderson)
Texas also has an alligator program for commercial farming, including entities that have or sell alligator parts and for folks who need a permit for nuisance gator removal.