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See ’ya later, alligator! Enjoy Florida

March 23, 2011 • Local News

Roswell’s American alligators, confiscated by Animal Control on Friday, have found a new home in Florida. The animals were discovered by the Chaves County Metro Narcotics Task Force as officials were executing a search warrant. The two juvenile alligators were being kept in overcrowded conditions in a 30-gallon aquarium.

Orlando Padilla, Animal Control officer, said it is illegal to keep the American alligators and the owners were in violation of city ordinance because the alligators were kept in unsafe and unsanitary conditions. However, the law required Animal Services maintain the animals for 72 hours until they spoke with the owners.

Municipal Court Judge Larry Loy signed a court order, Monday, to release the animals, which allowed them to be transported elsewhere. Meanwhile Animal Services kennel manager Tammie McKee’s attempts to find placement within the state had met with negative results.

According to Animal Services supervisor Joseph Pacheco, the final placement was a cooperative effort coordinated by the Roswell Humane Society working through the offices of the Animal Humane Assn. of New Mexico in Albuquerque and ABQ BioPark Zoo.

Cassie Gross from the Roswell Humane Society contacted Peggy Weigle, the executive director of Animal Humane. She, in turn, contacted Doug Hotle, the curator of herpetology at Albuquerque’s zoo.

“Normally, he would not have been able to take them because of the risk of contamination, but he took our two little alligators because he had two other crocodilians going to Florida,” Gross said. David Mathews, media resources manager for Albuquerque’s Cultural Services Department, said the process could take up to two months.

“The alligators will arrive at ABQ BioPark’s Zoo this afternoon. The zoo will put them into quarantine as the curator applies for the federal and state permits required for transport,” he said. The alligators will eventually find a home at St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park in St. Augustine, Fla.

Although not a native species, alligators are not completely unknown to New Mexico’s waterways. Besides the cayman taken in by Animal Services three years ago, Mathews told of another incident that occurred in his hometown of Hobbs in the 1980s when officials found a 12- foot alligator, which he believed was someone’s pet, that had been released into the water reclamation pond.

j.palmer@roswell-record.com

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