Lakeland Woman Gets Approval To Keep Pet Alligator

Woman Receives State Approval To Keep Clothes-Wearing Gator

Talk about a Merry Christmas. One woman in Lakeland is getting approval in the nick of time to keep her pet alligator.

Mary Thorn of Lakeland petitioned the state for permission to keep her trained alligator and Florida has approved.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Thorn has owned Rambo the rescued gator for nearly 12 years and has trained the reptile into an outfit-wearing show animal.

However, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission began an investigation into Rambo last year. The 15-year-old gator had grown to be nearly six feet long and Florida law requires any alligator longer than four feet to have 2.5 area of land to live on.

That’s when Thorn reached out to the state by asking attorney Spencer Sheehan of Great Neck, N.Y. for help.

According to the court documents obtained by the Sentinel, FWC and Thorn reached an agreement in September and she was then issued a personal pet license in November specific to Rambo. With the license she is able to keep the alligator for as long as she wants as long as she abides by certain conditions.

“He can’t go out and do public things anymore,” Thorn said to the Sentinel. “He can’t be one-on-one with people and his mouth has to be taped shut. He used to do pictures with kids and stuff like that, but no more.”

Rambo is known as a celebrity in the Lakeland area for wearing fun outfits that range from Santa costumes to leather jackets. The alligator came into Thorns possession as a rescue after spending the first four years of his life in a dark closet. The limited exposure to the sun led to a skin condition that makes him sensitive to light, which is why he wears clothes to help prevent sun burn.

Photo: Mary Thorn/Facebook

Thorn, 54, made a living off taking Rambo to birthday parties and special events, but now that has been banned. With the FWC investigation and her new license she will not be able to do that anymore.

Another rule Thorn must abide by to keep Rambo is securing him in the back of her vehicle when she needs to transport him. The alligator use to ride in the sidecar of her motorcycle, but will no longer be riding shotgun to her in her van either.

“In order to keep him I’m not going to argue with them too much,” Thorn told the Sentinel.

Even with the good news of keeping Rambo, Thorn is struggling financially. With the gator unable to perform Thorn is left without work. She told the Sentinel she could get another gator under four feet to take to events, but she won’t do that.

“I don’t believe alligators should be pets. In my shows, I preach that,” the Polk County woman said to the Sentinel. “The only reason I have Rambo is because he’s a rescue.”

“All in all it’s going to be a merry Christmas because Rambo is here,” Thorn said to the Sentinel.

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News Talk Florida Staff