Stolen alligator returns to Texas zoo after 20 years

An 8‑foot alli­ga­tor believed to have been stolen from a Texas zoo 20 years ago and kept as a pet was recent­ly returned to the zoo, offi­cials announced last week.

The alli­ga­tor was returned to the Ani­mal World & Snake Farm zoo in New Braun­fels on Fri­day, the zoo and Game­War­son of Texas announced.

The alli­ga­tor was dis­cov­ered dur­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into the pos­si­bil­i­ty of hunt­ing with­out landown­er per­mis­sion on adja­cent land in Cald­well Coun­ty, said Jen Shugert, a spokesman for the guer­ril­la unit.

“She was doing some good research, ask­ing her neigh­bors if they had seen or heard any­thing in the area, and then she encoun­tered an alligator.

The zoo said in a video it released on Fri­day that the alli­ga­tor is believed to have been stolen in its egg or hatch­ling state by a vol­un­teer at the zoo decades ago.

Shugart said the per­son will be charged with two offens­es and fined less than $500 each. The per­son­’s name has not been released.

Shughart said the trans­fer of the alli­ga­tor, named Tewa, was decid­ed by a judge in ear­ly February.

Game War­den reports that Tewa is hap­py in her new habi­tat. She will be intro­duced to oth­er alli­ga­tors and will stay at the facil­i­ty for the rest of her life, the zoo said in the video.

The zoo did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for com­ment Mon­day night.

Alli­ga­tors are endem­ic to Texas, but in places clos­er to the coast, such as near Louisiana, offi­cials are more com­mon­ly noti­fied of alli­ga­tors, Shugart said. Cald­well Coun­ty is locat­ed in cen­tral Texas, south of Austin.

“The game war­den who respond­ed to this alli­ga­tor sit­u­a­tion said this was her first alli­ga­tor call,” he said.

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