See you later, alligator!
An eight-foot alligator taken from a Texas zoo 20 years ago by a volunteer who raised it as a pet has been returned to the zoo, officials said.
Texas Parks and Wildlife officials discovered the massive gator at a home in Buda, south of Austin, while investigating another case nearby.
The woman who stole the alligator had been a volunteer at Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo in New Braunfels over two decades ago the zoo said in a video posted Friday.
Investigators believe the woman, who kept the alligator in her backyard as a “pet,” either stole an alligator egg or hatchling.
“Alligators will have a nest of 50, 60 eggs at a time. So it would have been very easy for someone to take an egg or a hatchling home just kind of without anyone noticing,” Jarrod Forthman, the director of Animal World & Snake Farm told KSAT.
Game Wardens said the alligator was healthy and well cared for but had outgrown the woman’s backyard.
“It was very friendly with her,” Game Warden Joann Garza said.
“She did take it a bit tough, but she does still have to follow all of the rules and regulations in the state,” Garza said of the woman who stole the gator.
The alligator, who is a female, was named Tewa. She was returned to Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo on Friday.
A video of Tewa swimming through a pond at the zoo that was shared on Facebook was captioned: “We partnered with Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept to give this alligator a new forever home.”
Texas law only allows people to keep alligators if they are farming, educating, or using them for zoological reasons.
The woman will face up to $1,000 in fines for illegally possessing an alligator, but charges for stealing the animal are past the statute of limitations.