A South Florida man is fighting to keep his pet alligator of more than 47 years after officials said the 13-foot gator is too big to be kept at his home.
David Van Buren has had Gwendolyn since he was 9 years old and has kept the alligator in his Coconut Grove-area home, where he enjoys a diet of pizza and cookies, WSVN reports.
"Once he was in the house, he didn't want to leave," Van Buren said. "I think it took us like three weeks to get him to go back outside. He was on the couch all the time or in the bathtub."
Asked by WSVN why he named his male alligator Gwendolyn, Van Buren said he thought for the first 20 years he had the alligator that it was female.
Now, Van Buren says fish and wildlife officials have informed him that Gwendolyn is too big to keep on his property and he has to go.
"Once we received the complaint about the alligator in the backyard, we started our investigation again," FWC spokesperson Lorenzo Veloz told WSVN. "Unfortunately, Gwendolyn the alligator is not in the proper caging it is supposed to be. Mr. Van Buren has been advised about this right now, and at the moment, we are investigating the whole situation."
WSVN reports Van Burne and Gwendolyn garnered national attention in the 1990s when Van Buren went to court over the upkeep of his pet. He won that battle, but now some changes will have to be made to his property, according to fish and wildlife officials.
He isn't the first person with a pet alligator. A Pennsylvania man lives with his "friendly" pet gator while a Florida man was recently arrested after allowing kids to pet an alligator he had on a leash. A woman in Lakeland caught attention earlier this year when she posted an ad to buy her "fully trained" gator.
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