Animal control officers have removed an 8-foot alligator from a padlocked basement pen located inside a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, home.
“When we walked up to the padlock, there was this little window on the door, like you see in these prisons in movies,” Sarah Barnett, executive director of ACCT Philly told Fox News Digital. “We all kind of peered in, and we just went, ‘Oh crap.’”
The original call to ACCT Philly requested the removal of a 5-foot alligator, but Barnett said her team knew immediately this guy — later named Big Mack — was much bigger.
“He was just sitting there kind of looking out,” Barnett said. “It just made me sad because these animals are smart. They’re not dumb animals, so it was just sad to see an animal like that in an environment that is less than ideal when they deserve so much more.”
An 8-foot alligator was captured from a home basement in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (ACCT Philly)
Big Mack measures 8 feet long, weighs 127 pounds and is 12 years old.
“When we got him out, it was a little bit nerve-wracking at the beginning,” Barnett said. “He got very stressed coming out and he did twist around a little bit on the catch pole that we had.”
Barnett said it took several people to safely secure him.
“We had one person sitting on the back just to restrain him, and then I was sitting on the tail while someone else was taping the mouth,” Barnett said.
ACCT Philly takes in “a couple hundred if not more” reptiles in a year, Sarah Barnett, executive director of ACCT Philly told Fox News Digital. (ACCT Philly)
“You could hear him hissing,” Barnett added. “And you wish you could explain to him, ‘No, we’re actually taking you somewhere better.’ So, we got him into the truck and it wasn’t super graceful.”
Barnett said a divorce led to the alligator being surrendered, as the owner’s ex-wife did not want the reptile living in her basement anymore. The woman reportedly said she did not have anything to do with feeding or caring for the reptile that had been living in her home for more than a decade.
Animal control officers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, remove an alligator from a basement after a divorce led to the alligator being surrendered, according to officials. (ACCT Philly)
Barnett added that the woman told her the alligator had likely not been fed in a month. Otherwise, Barnett said the gator seemed “relatively healthy.”
But Big Mack’s actual size, compared to what was originally reported, changed the planned airplane ride that would’ve brought him to a Michigan sanctuary.
The alligator, after being removed from a basement in Philadelphia, will now be transferred to a sanctuary in Florida. (ACCT Philly)
“We didn’t have a container big enough for him,” Barnett said. “And the plane wasn’t big enough for him, so we took him in, but we had to pivot and think about what would be the best alternative.”
Barnett’s team created a habitat for Big Mack at the shelter where they installed heat lamps and a pool for him.
“He actually submerged his head, which is what they do to alleviate stress, apparently. So just the fact that he was comfortable enough and you could just sense that he was relaxed,” Barnett said.
Since Big Mack could not stay at the shelter forever, Barnett reached out to several rescues, but apparently no one was able to take an 8-foot alligator.
Barnett said that a man named “Crocodile Kyle,” who grew up in Philadelphia, stopped in to inquire about Big Mack.
“What’s cool about the sanctuary is they’ve got these amazing holding pools for the alligators.” (ACCT Philly)
“Crocodile Kyle” is Kyle Asplundh, who had been passionate for crocodilians since he was young while traveling to Florida with his family. “He loved exploring the everglades on airboat tours, and he was in awe of the alligators,” according to JAWS – an organization that provides sanctuary to gators.
Barnett said JAWS has amenities for Big Mack and the other rescued animals.
“What’s cool about the sanctuary is they’ve got these amazing holding pools for the alligators,” she said. “They get to live their natural life. It’s not like they are out being paraded around. They’re just getting to be natural crocodiles and alligators which is really awesome.”
Two officers with ACCT Philly are seen carrying out Big Mack the alligator, after a call led officials to remove the animal from a Pennsylvania home. (ACCT Philly)
Barnett said reptiles are often overlooked as animals in need of rescue.
“Nobody really cares about reptiles,” Barnett said. Everyone focuses on dogs and then some people focus on cats, but there’s literally no focus on reptiles.”
ACCT Philly takes in “a couple hundred if not more” reptiles in a year, Barnett added. Mostly turtles, she said.
“A reptile can live to be 30. If someone’s really considering an animal like this, I would suggest honestly reaching out to a rescue organization and fostering first, because then they can see what it involves. Or, volunteer at a zoo,” Barnett added.