LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (WPIX) — A 5-foot American alligator was surrendered to Suffolk County officials by an owner no longer able to care for the wild reptile, authorities said Thursday.
The gator, dubbed Zachary, was turned over to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation police and the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Wednesday, according to officials.
The owner, whose identity was not released, purchased the alligator out of state, did not have a state permit to legally own it and found that they could no longer care for it, according to Chief Roy Gross of the Suffolk County SPCA.
The alligator, believed to be about 9-years-old, will now be turned over to a licensed wildlife sanctuary, officials said.
“Alligators do not make good pets, are a danger to the public, and are illegal to own without a permit from the NYSDEC,” said Gross in a statement. The SPCA warned locals against approaching wild reptiles, noting that alligators have a keen sense of hearing. In the past, 22 alligators were illegally dumped over the course of one year on Long Island, endangering the public, the agency said.
The gator was surrendered less than a week after a Eurasian lynx was captured in Central Islip.
The SPCA extended to owners of exotic animals the opportunity to surrender their illegal pets without facing criminal charges or other penalties.
Anyone who encounters an abandoned reptile is asked to call the Suffolk County SPCA at 631-382-7722 or NYSDEC Police at 631-444-0250. All calls will be kept confidential.