Officials said this week that an 8-foot alligator that was reportedly seized from a Texas zoo two decades ago and kept as a pet had recently been returned.
According to the zoo and the Texas Game Wardens, the alligator was returned to the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo in New Braunfels on Friday.
According to Jen Shugert, a spokesman for Game Wardens, it was discovered as a game warden was looking into alleged illegal hunting on a nearby farm in rural Caldwell County.
She stumbled upon the alligator while carrying out her due diligence, asking nearby neighbors if they had heard or seen anything, according to Shugert.
The alligator is thought to have been stolen when it was an egg or a hatchling by a person who had previously volunteered at the zoo, the zoo said in a video released on Friday.
According to Shugert, the offender received two tickets, each of which carries a fine of up to $500. Their identity was kept a secret.
A judge decided to move the alligator, known as Tewa, in the first few days of February, according to Shugert.
Wildlife officers reported Tewa was content in her new environment. The zoo stated in the video that she was meeting the other alligators and will spend the rest of her life there.
An inquiry for comment sent to the zoo Monday night did not receive an instant response.
Alligators are a native species in Texas, although Shugert noted that calls regarding them are significantly more frequent closer to the coast, such as close to Louisiana. South of Austin in Central Texas is Caldwell County.
This was the game warden’s first alligator call, she added, adding that she was the one who reacted to the alligator incident.