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Partly Cloudy / Windy,46°
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Gatorgate?
(Page 2 of 3)
Chris Connolly
The Second alligator recovered, right, is calm around humans. The first animal is too skittish to be allowed out of its cage.

O’Brien agreed to look after the first alligator, as he has with abandoned reptiles in the past. It was transported to his home in Bellmore, where it was placed in what O’Brien described as “a double-locked secure facility” in his garage. Less than 24 hours later it was joined by gator No. 2. O’Brien was in California on a wildlife expedition, but he didn’t fear for the animals’ safety because, he explained, “they can go months without eating.” Before he returned on Oct. 10, however, his daughter, Mary, took over the task of caring for the gators.

“He just called and said, ‘Guess what’s in the garage?’” said Mary, a 22-year-old day care provider, shortly after putting a 20-month-old to sleep in an alligator-free

section of the home. “We’re like a halfway house for all kinds of reptiles. We’ve had alligators, a corn snake, a boa, a python, an

anaconda …”

The alligators were securely contained in pet carriers and had their jaws closed with medical tape, but Mary adroitly let one of them out for photographs. “This one is pretty comfortable around people,” she said, referring to the second alligator to be found. “The other one won’t even come out of the cage.”

Although she has given previous animal refugees names — the last gator guest went by Pedro — the two new arrivals have yet to be named. One reason is because determining the sex of an alligator is difficult. “You can’t really tell from the outside what sex they are,” explained Mary, who will start a teaching career next year.

Alligators in Baldwin? How and why?

Contacted in California, Bob O’Brien said that the most probable explanation was a bad choice of pets. “Kids bring them back from college, or people get them when they’re small,” he said.

His daughter agreed. “As babies they make pretty good pets,” Mary said, holding up one of the animals for a photo, “but when they get to this size, when they’re a little too big for common cages, people don’t know what to do with them.”

Bob O’Brien said that regretful alligator owners most often release their unwanted charges into ponds, which, in the Northeast, quickly become too cold for them. “They often head for parking lots because they’re warm,” he said. “That big rectangle of blacktop retains heat, so they like to lie on it.”

What’s next for the Baldwin gators?

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