PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — A case of alligator abuse has led to a criminal charge being filed in Plant City.
Wildlife officials said a video began circulating around social media on Thursday, which shows a teen chugging and alcoholic beverage with a baby alligator gripping the can.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission caught wind of the video and opened an investigation, which led to one of the teens seen in the video being charged for taking the alligator without a permit.
“The lack of respect and responsibility shown toward this animal was disappointing to see….this serves as a strong reminder of the consequences of such behavior,” the FWC said in a statement.
8 On Your Side showed the video to Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation president Vernon Yates.
“I could see multiple things in there that are just wrong,” he said. “Wrong possession of it [and] wrong to just drop it on the hot pavement like that.”
“In my opinion, everyone they got on video that touched it needs to be brought in front of a judge, and then the judge needs to take some serious points of views to use as an example,” Yates added. “This has got to stop.”
He thinks there’s more to the story than just what was captured in the 15-second video.
“He’s not very lively,” Yates said. “Normally, a little alligator about that size, when he hit the ground he should’ve hit it running.”
When asked if he had a message for the teens, Yates said “There’s got to be something better they could be doing with their time besides tormenting some poor little alligator.”
The FWC tells 8 On Your Side that the little alligator was released into a local retention pond and is alive and well.
Anyone concerned about an alligator should call this toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).