Mary Thorn has had a license for her pet alligator, Rambo, for 11 years. However, the animal recently grew to six feet, which means that by law the reptile must have 2.5 acres of land to live on, according to wildlife officials.
Thorn explained to the Orlando Sentinel that even if she had access to the land, Rambo can’t stay outdoors because of sunlight sensitivity.
The 15-year-old reptile is quite a celebrity. He wears clothes that Thorn makes for him, rides on the back of a motorcycle and has a bedroom in her home.
She also takes Rambo to elementary schools, charity events and conventions to educate people about reptiles.
Thorn said she has taught the animal not to bite, scratch, head butt or swat, which allows him to interact with the public safely. She also said she has permission to have Rambo out without taping his snout shut.
“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.
— Orlando Sentinel (@orlandosentinel) March 16, 2016
Her case is being investigated by the Florida Wildlife Commission, but because Thorn had her pet alligator before the 2.5 acre law, they might still have a chance to stay together. She said that she’ll soon have to go to court to get that issue settled and address a clerical error concerning the address on her license.
While the case is investigated, Thorn said she has had trouble finding someone with a proper license to take Rambo in. Although she has had an offer from a reptile encounter attraction in Tampa, she thinks it won’t be a good fit because of his sensitivity to sunlight and because he’s so docile.
“I know when he goes there he’s going to be really afraid and he’s probably going to pass away from stress,” Thorn said.
Meanwhile, she is trying to get the reptile certified as a therapy animal.
Rambo’s fans have also taken action. His followers have signed a petition and have asked the FWC to allow him to stay with Thorn.
“Without him, I don’t feel like even wanting to go on,” Thorn said. “Everybody is taking it pretty hard because they know how much I love the gator.”