An Orlando man is facing charges for keeping a live alligator at his home without the proper permits, wildlife officials announced Wednesday.
According to an incident report, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer received a call on Sept. 29 claiming that an alligator was being kept at a home on Limewood Lane in Orlando.
Officers responded to the address on Oct. 3 and met a man who identified himself as the homeowner’s son, but declined to comment further when asked if there was an alligator at the house.
After another brief conversation with the homeowner’s son, the officers say he opened the door to the home’s garage, allowing them to see a 35 to 40 gallon aquarium containing an approximately 3.5-foot long American alligator in plain view.
When asked where the alligator came from, the son again declined to comment and helped officers contact his father, identified as 50-year-old Jean Abelard.
In an interview with FWC officers, Abelard claimed he picked the alligator up on Saturday, Sept. 23 when he saw it crossing a road while he was working.
Abelard claimed he didn’t want the alligator to get run over or picked up and eaten.
According to FWC, Abelard went on to claim he planned to take the alligator to Gatorland the following Saturday “so it would not be harmed,” but the officers arrived before he could take it there.
The officers determined Abelard did not have the necessary Class II permit required to possess an alligator. They also noted the aquarium was dirty and only had a small mesh top with dumbbell weights holding it down.
Abelard was charged with unlawful sale, possession or transporting of an alligator, and violating Florida codes pertaining to keeping wildlife as personal pets, both misdemeanors.
The live alligator was seized and later released into Lake Apopka.