The scales of justice seem to have tipped in favor of an American alligator named Zachary.
Zachary, 9 years old and six feet tall, goes to a licensed wildlife sanctuary after spending time in an aquarium as an illegal pet in upstate New York. His previous owners handed him over to officials this week, the Suffolk County SPCA said in a Facebook post alongside photos of the reptile.
The alligator’s former owners were a man and woman who kept it in an empty aquarium, TAUT 7 New York reported. The couple had bought Zach out of the state but were not licensed to own an alligator and, when they informed him, said they could no longer care for him.
“Alligators are not good pets, are a danger to the public and are illegal to own without a permit from the” [New York State Department of Environmental Conservation]Ray Gross, the Suffolk County SPCA chief, told NBC New York. “These are very, very dangerous animals. They can cause serious injury or even death. …I can’t imagine anyone sitting on a couch with an alligator curled up on their lap. There is no point.”
NYSDEC Captain Timothy Byrnes made similar comments.
“Our message is: don’t own these,” he said.
NYSDEC and the Suffolk County SPCA allow owners of illegal exotic animals to return them without fines or charges, and urge people not to just release such animals into the wild.
People releasing alligators on Long Island, where Suffolk County is located, is a surprisingly common problem. The SPCA noted on Facebook that 22 alligators were released on Long Island in a year.