Animals and Insects

Stolen alligator returned to Texas zoo 20 years later

The alligator was returned to the zoo after officials learned a woman wasn't complying with local regulations to keep the reptile.

An American alligator lurking in the water
An American alligator lurking in the water
Stephen B. Morton/AP

An alligator apparently taken from a zoo in Texas 20 years ago has been returned. 

In a video posted on the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo Facebook page, a worker said the facility got a call from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials about an alligator needing a new home. 

The person who had the 8-foot alligator apparently wasn't complying with regulations to keep the animal. During their investigation, Parks and Wildlife officials learned that the person volunteered at the zoo 20 years ago.

"[She] apparently stole this alligator, either the egg or the hatchling alligator at the time, put it in their pocket and took off and kept this thing as a pet," the zoo worker said. 

An alligator

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The woman lived about 50 miles from the zoo, which is near San Antonio, officials said. Zoo workers went to the woman's home to reclaim the alligator. It was brought back to the zoo where it will live out the remainder of its life. 

The woman was cited for keeping the animal. 

According to the Smithsonian National Zoo, the lifespan of an alligator is up to 50 years.