Pet alligator, Rambo, allowed to stay put in Polk County home

Owner treats 6-foot gator like a baby
Posted at 7:14 PM, Dec 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-21 12:00:34-05

A Lakeland homeowner no longer has to part ways with her beloved pet alligator.

"He's family," said Mary Thorn. "I love him like my family."

Thorn rescued Rambo, a gator almost six feet long, more than a decade ago.

The two have been performing side-by-side for years, but a change to state regulations threatened their future together.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission previously stated gators that length must live on properties with at least 2.5 acres of land.

State officials ruled this month that Thorn can keep her gentle giant.

"All my kids are grown, so all I have is my animals," said Thorn.

FWC officials issued new conditions Thorn must meet to permanently keep her pet.

Thorn is no longer allowed to showcase the trained gator in public. Effectively halting Rambo's appearances at conservation classes, charity and education events. 

Rambo, who is potty trained and is often dressed up in costumes, has been a teaching resource for kids for years across the Tampa Bay area.

"They could have a gator that they can come up to and touch and feel so they don't do it in the wild and they don't break the law," said Thorn.