'Pet' gators removed from South Daytona back yard to Gatorland
Updated On: May 02 2014 08:53:27 AM EDT
Gatorland removed two pet alligators, 9 feet long and 7 feet long, from a South Daytona man's back yard on Thursday.
The gators, 20 and 17 years old, were discovered April 25 on Lambright Road in South Daytona after a neighbor heard one of the beasts slapping a fence with its tail.
It took several attempts for them to get the male alligator in the truck.
Wildlife officers say they had to wait for the owner, Larry Miller, to return from vacation on Wednesday before removing the gators. FWC said they are conducting an investigation.
FWC said it wanted to relocate the gators, called "Big Boy" and "Big Girl" by Miller, to a licensed facility.
Miller has a week to decide if he's going to find a property larger than 2.5 acre and apply for state permits.
The gators will be quarantined for 30 days while Gatorland makes a permanent home for them, just in case Millers chooses to donate them.
Miller said he had the gators for almost 20 years and that he spent time with them every night.
"They are my kids, they really are," said Miller. "This is the only two things I have left. I come out here and sort of ease my mind and now they want to take them. It's sad."
Miller said his parents and dogs passed away this year.
South Daytona does not permit alligators to be kept within city limits.
Photographs taken in Miller's back yard showed the gators in a makeshift pen with two small pools of water. Wildlife officers said the gators appeared to be healthy and well-fed.
Miller told Local 6 FWC gave him a ticket and fined him $125 for each alligator. Miller said he plans to fight the ticket in court.
"Anytime you deal with something you love, it's hard," said Miller. "I don't care how good they treat you, it's hard to accept it."
The Millers say if they do decide to let Gatorland keep them, the park has promised them unlimited visitation.