This story comes to us from Florida, as if there was any doubt…
Alligators aren’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the perfect pet, but for Mary Thorn, of Lakeland Florida, Rambo is her best friend. Having raised the reptile for over a decade, the now 15 year old living dinosaur has grown to 125 lbs and 6.5 feet. Not that any of that stops Thorn from dressing him up and cuddling with him like a baby. Oh, and she also has a specially built side car on her motorcycle so she can take him for rides… because of course she does.
At this point, it’s easy to dismiss Thorn as a whack job, but the state has supported her in this endeavor for many years. That is, until she went back this year to renew her license for keeping an alligator. As it turns out, he’s now grown to a size where Florida Fish and Wildlife says he’s required by law to have 2.5 acres in which to run and play. In her defense, Thorn says that she rescued Rambo when he was 4 years old. Until that time, he’d been cruelly kept inside a closet and now has a sensitivity to light. So, it’s not like he’s going to head outside and party. In fact, Rambo is happy to hang out by the fridge, waiting to be tossed a treat, or chill in the living room and watch TV from his favorite pillow.
The Privileged Critters Animal Hospital in Lakeland backs up Thorn’s claims in a letter that says: ” alligators raised in a filtered light environment develop this type of sensitivity and therefore shouldn’t be “left outside for any length of time.”
the upside is that Rambo isn’t just a house pet. Mary takes him around Florida to different schools where they teach children about the misunderstood creatures.
“He loves kids and when kids come around he shuts his mouth really tight so fingers can’t go in his mouth,” Thorn said, adding that she’s been given permission to have him out and about without his snout taped shut.
A reptile attraction in Tampa, FL has offered to give Rambo a temporary home until the license is sorted out, but Mary is afraid that it might be too much for her pal… and for herself.
“I know when he goes there he’s going to be really afraid and he’s probably going to pass away from stress. Without him, I don’t feel like even wanting to go on. Everybody is taking it pretty hard because they know how much I love the gator.”