COCONUT GROVE, Fla., July 15 (UPI) — A Florida man is asking state wildlife officials to allow him to keep the pizza-loving alligator that has been his pet for 47 years.
David Van Buren, a retired firefighter, said the male gator, named Gwendolyn due to a mistaken identification of the reptile’s sex when it was young, has been his pet since he was 9 years old and currently resides in his Coconut Grove back yard.
Van Buren said Gwendolyn is equally happy indoors.
“Once he was in the house, he didn’t want to leave. 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,” he told WTVT-TV.
Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said they opened an investigation after receiving a complaint about the 13-foot alligator, which is particularly fond of pizza and Chips Ahoy cookies.
“Unfortunately, Gwendolyn the alligator is not in the proper caging it is supposed to be,” FWC spokesman Lorenzo Veloz told WSVN-TV. “Mr. Van Buren has been advised about this right now, and at the moment, we are investigating the whole situation.”
Van Buren said he is willing to work with the FWC to find a way to keep the alligator at his home.
FWC officials said they have not yet come to a decision about Gwendolyn’s fate, but Van Buren would have to make modifications to his property if the alligator is allowed to stay.