PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The owner of Chomp, one of the alligators recently rescued in Pittsburgh, has come forward.
Mark McGowan contacted KDKA saying that Chomp is his pet and that he would like the alligator back.
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Chomp’s owner says he is used for educational purposes and that thousands of people throughout the Pittsburgh region know Chomp from reptile expos.
McGowan has a company that rescues, educates and buys and sells reptiles and feels people should not be criminalized for owning them.
He lives in Beechview with his smaller alligator and a few tarantulas.
McGowan told KDKA’s Pam Surano that the five-foot alligator must have crawled out the window.
“It must have been raining outside, he went into my living room on my couch, out my window and through my locked in screen,” said McGowan.
After the alligator escaped McGowan says he was afraid to notify anyone.
“Reptile owners aren’t able to call anybody because then they’re bad people, people don’t like reptiles.”
McGowan says he has had a lifelong love of reptiles and he has several more inside his Beechview home including a four and a half foot Albino Burmese Python.
He says that after the gator escaped, people have the wrong idea about him and what he does.
“I had cops banging on my door like I’m a drug dealer today.”
Mark is licensed through the PA Department of Agriculture as a Reptile and Amphibian Dealer. He says he buys them through a reputable company online.
Mark’s website and company, Jungle Edge Exotics, says he is very well known and regarded because he travels all over the Pittsburgh region to expos educating people about reptiles.
As for Chomp getting loose, he says Chomp would not hurt anyone.
“I’m this big mean person. Chomp, I can hold him. I can lay on the couch and he lays with me there’s hundreds of people who see this, who know Chomp, who hold him, kiss him, and take pictures with him. He’s harmless.”
Mark says he isn’t facing any charges for Chomp’s escape he just wants him back and for others to understand.
“They have him back into a corner, six officers poking at him with bright lights at night they’re his predators.”
As for the two other alligators also being found in Pittsburgh within the last month, McGowan says he does not know anything about them.
He says that it would cost more than $500 to get his alligator back and he says he just does not have the money.
Mark says while this is his first accident in the four years he has lived in his Beechview home, the reptiles are making his neighbors nervous and he is moving soon.
A public information officer with the city of Pittsburgh says McGowan is not facing any charges but, if you are the owner of that 5-foot alligator, you should not have let it get loose and police continue to investigate.