Man Rails Against Seizure of His 750-Pound 'Son' Albert

Albert is an 11-foot-long gator, and New York DEC authorities say his owner was harboring him illegally
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2024 6:35 AM CDT
Updated Mar 23, 2024 1:05 PM CDT
Man Rails Against Seizure of His 750-Pound 'Son' Albert
DEC officers secure an 11-foot alligator for transport after it was seized from a home where it was being kept illegally in Hamburg, New York, on Wednesday.   (New York DEC via AP)

Hamburg, New York, is known for its ample snowfall, the Erie County Fair, and ... alligators? The Western New York town south of Buffalo picked up the latter honorary last week, when local authorities seized an 11-foot-long, 750-pound reptilian resident from a home there, where a man had apparently been keeping it as a pet for more than 30 years, reports CNN. In a Friday Facebook post, officials from the state's Department of Environmental Conservation say they'd received a tip that the homeowner "had built an addition to his house and installed an in-ground swimming pool" to house the gator, which WKBW reports is named Albert. To legally own and house an animal classified as "dangerous" in New York, including alligators, a DEC license is required.

Both the agency and the alligator's owner, identified as Tony Cavallaro, say Cavallaro was properly licensed until 2021, at which point the license expired. Cavallaro, who got Albert at a 1990 reptile show as a baby, says he'd tried to re-up the license once it lapsed but that the DEC gave him the runaround. "This is on them," he tells WKBW. "I should be grandfathered in." However, the DEC is pushing back, saying that even if Cavallaro had remained properly licensed, he put that license in jeopardy by allegedly permitting "members of the public to get into the water to pet the unsecured alligator." Cavallaro concedes that he would, on occasion but not regularly, allow kids in his pool to take photos with Albert appearing in the background, though he denies there was ever anything risky about it.

"I'm not dangerous. I'm not being unsafe with people," he tells the AP. Officials disagree and say Albert—who they claim has "numerous health-related issues," including blindness and spine problems—has been left with a "licensed caretaker who will house and care for the animal until it can be properly transported for permanent care." They add that additional evidence could also bring more charges. Meanwhile, more than 100,000 people have so far signed a petition to reunite Cavallaro and Albert. "I am very upset and angry about this whole incident," Cavallaro notes, saying authorities treated him like a "drug-dealing criminal." "I'm Albert's dad, that's all there is to it," he tells WKBW of his "son." (More strange stuff stories.)

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