Woman Fights State Of Florida To Keep Her Beloved Pet Alligator

Mary Thorn says she treats the 125-pound reptile "like a baby."

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Mary Thorn and Rambo have been together for 11 years. Via Mary Thorn/Orlando Sentinel

He weighs 125 pounds, loves to ride motorcycles and has a sensitivity to the sun. No, we didn’t just run into that borderline goth you dated during your freshman year, we’re talking about an alligator named Rambo. (Obviously). 

Mary Thorn has raised and trained the 15-year-old gator and, despite sharing her Lakeland, Florida, home with him for more than a decade, she could be forced to give him up, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Just an alligator in a car seat on the back of a motorcycle, nothing to see here. Via Mary Thorn/Orlando Sentinel

Just an alligator in a carseat on the back of a motorcycle, nothing to see here. Via Mary Thorn/Orlando Sentinel

Like any other teenager, Rambo is still growing, and that has put his relationship with Thorn in jeopardy. Because he is now more than 6 feet long, he has to have 2.5 acres of land to stretch out on, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That law overrules the permit that allows Thorn to keep Rambo as a pet and, as a result, she may have to turn him over to a reptile sanctuary, attraction or other organization that has the right paperwork for a gator like him.

“Everyone will tell you that I treat that animal like a baby,” Thorn told the Sentinel. “He doesn’t do anything a normal gator does.”

"Is it lunchtime yet?"  Via Mary Thorn/Orlando Sentinel

“Is it lunchtime yet?” Via Mary Thorn/Orlando Sentinel

That includes basking in the sun: Rambo is sensitive to light and, according to a veterinarian Thorn consulted, he should not stay outside for extended periods of time. That is one of the reasons that Thorn hopes she’ll be able to keep her cold-blooded “baby.”

A spokesperson for Florida Fish and Wildlife told the Sentinel that the case was still open and being investigated. The law requiring large gators to have 2.5 acres went into effect after Thorn adopted Rambo, so she might be exempt from the regulation. She and Rambo undoubtedly have their fingers – and claws – crossed.

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