A Florida woman is accused of stealing an alligator from her former workplace and keeping it in a hotel bathtub for a birthday photo shoot earlier this month.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission sent personnel to the Grove Resort & Waterpark in Winter Garden, Fla., on Sept. 4 after the Orange County Sheriff’s Office requested the rescue of a young alligator about 2 feet long. announced. FOX 35 Orlando It was reported on Thursday.
An incident report obtained by the outlet revealed that the alligator was kept in the hotel bathroom by a woman named Madison Stephens.
Stephen allegedly told officials that he “borrowed” the reptile from his former employer, Clock Encounters in Tampa, without permission, so he could take a photo with him for his birthday. She allegedly used a key she still had to break into the facility before it opened and took her alligator.
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She then returned to the hotel with the alligator and placed it in the water in her hotel room’s bathtub. According to Google Maps, the two locations are approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes apart.
It is unclear who alerted authorities to report the alligator in the hotel room.
The alligator was alive but “cold to the touch” when FWC officers arrived at the scene, the incident report states. It was also noted that the reptile had no way of getting out of the water.
It was returned to Clock Encounters the same day and was in good condition as of late Thursday night.
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When contacted by authorities, the owner of Clock Encounters confirmed that Stefan was a former employee and said he did not have permission to enter the property or take the alligator.
“We hope we can return this little guy to a suitable home at Clock Encounters, where he can greet visitors and continue his education at our facility,” the zoo said in a statement to Tampa news outlets. We are extremely grateful to the staff who responded.”
Despite Stephen’s actions, the owner declined to press charges of theft or trespassing, FOX 35 reported.
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Stefan was arrested and charged with illegally possessing a crocodile.