HOMEWOOD, PA (KDKA) – First came Frankie off the shoreline of the Mon River on the Southside. Then came Chomp the Magic Gator (names given by Humane employees) in all his five feet of glory from Beechview. Then, came the call to Humane Animal Rescue’s Sarah Shively on Saturday night.
“I went no way! You’re joking, right? They just keep coming.”
The call from Carrick was for a little two-footer who remains unnamed. To say the least, Shively says they are finding themselves in unusual territory.
“Obviously, alligators are not something we get in on a regular basis.”
Shively says there is no way to track any of the reptiles back to their owners but she says.
“We don’t think these three were from the same owners.”
The top reptile keeper at the Pittsburgh Zoo, Ray Bamrick points out, “In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania it is not unlawful to own an alligator, its unlawful to release them.”
The Pittsburgh Zoo’s only alligator named Otis arrived as a small gator in 1991.
Bamrick says, “He’s now 11 feet long, weighs 400 pounds and he’s still growing.”
Bamrick and Shively believe the gator owners may have started out with the best of intentions.
But Shively points out the owners may not realize, “gators actually live 30-50 years. People don’t realize when they get a tiny three-foot alligator that it’s going to get huge and it could potentially outlive them.”
Bamrick says releasing an adult alligator onto the streets of Pittsburgh is actually cruel to the animal.
“It’s not the habitat they are familiar with, they don’t know how to find food or capture food.”
And he points out, “They are not going to pursue us, not going to come after us but if you try to interact with them you’re going to get hurt.”
Frankie, Chomp, and Gator Doe are heading east. After a stop in Harrisburg Shively says they are heading “to the Cape May Zoo, at the Cape May Zoo they will be held and they will go to Croc Encounters in Florida.”
That Florida refuge comes north twice a year to collect reptiles like the Pittsburgh Three so it could be a lengthy stay in Cape May before the trio heads south.