In a first for the Madison Township Police Department in southwestern Ohio, a 25-year-old alligator was discovered living in a man’s basement last March.
Paramedics who had been called to the home made a report to the local law enforcement officers when they saw what was living down below the house, prompting police commander Darrell Breneman to enforce possibly the wildest seizure in his 17 years with the department.
“I’ve never seen anything like that in my 17 years in the department,” he told CNN.
According to the mother of the home’s resident, the man living at the address in question had purchased the alligator at a reptile flea market a quarter century ago—and had been raising it in captivity ever since. It lived in a tank down in the basement of the home, where it seemed to be in “normal” condition for an alligator of its age living in captivity.
The home’s resident had hooked the tub up to a sump pump, which likely kept the water from the tank from causing the rest of the basement to suffer from any mold, mildew, or excess moisture.
Measuring nearly 5 feet long, this was no gentle-looking reptile that the police department found themselves faced with when they peered into the tub-like apparatus built on the basement floor. But the man in possession of the alligator, who explained that he’d owned the massive creature since it was “about a foot long,” wasn’t just in possession of something interesting—he was in possession of something illegal.
It’s against the law in the state of Ohio to own an alligator, which is one of a number of exotic pets that the state has banned over the years.
Rather than face a fine, though, the man willingly gave up his scaly friend—who will now head to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The 25-year-old alligator will live out the rest of its days at an alligator and reptile sanctuary, where it will have a more “favorable climate” for its species and be able to roam more freely from now on.
“They kind of grow to the size of the enclosure that they’re in, so he’s not reached his full potential, and I think it’s pretty exciting to know that he’s going to an alligator sanctuary in a warmer climate where he can reach his full potential and experience that,” Breneman explained in an interview.