LAKELAND, FLORIDA — Mary Thorn’s Christmas wish has come true: she’s going to get to keep her baby.
Just bear in mind that the “baby” in question is a five-foot-eight, 15-year-old named “Rambo,” who — despite his penchant for wearing clothes, sporting sunglasses, and accompanying his “mom” on motorcycle rides — is a live alligator.
Mary almost lost Rambo earlier this month after Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission agents investigated her residence over an issue of proper permits. Typically, a gator of Rambo’s size is legally required to have more space than Thorn’s property contains.
But after considering that Rambo and Mary have lived together without incident for over a decade and that, through Thorn’s “Country Gator Theater” business, the reptile has long been a popular part of the local community, Commission officials relented — with conditions.
Rambo will be tagged with a transponder device and have to have his mouth taped shut when traveling now. He can no longer appear at children’s parties, senior-citizen centers, and other outlets that the “Country Gator Theater” has typically served. Also: No more motorcycle rides around town.
Thorn is grateful, but a little sad about the new requirements. Social media is loaded with hundreds of photos of friends and fans happily cuddling Rambo, and Thorn says her gator will miss all that contact.
Despite Rambo’s success, Thorn stresses, “I don’t want people thinking they can have alligators for pets.” She received Rambo as a rescue animal and she says he is not typical of his breed.
Someone initially dropped Rambo off with four other abused gators at a wrestling school Thorn used to run. Only Rambo survived, and he has been with Thorn ever since. Thus, Thorn reiterates: “If people start considering alligators pets, the same thing that happened to Rambo and the others will happen to more alligators.”
Nonetheless, Mary Thorn and her “baby” are happy together, and she says: “All in all it’s going to be a merry Christmas because Rambo is here!”
Main photo: Mary Thorn and Rambo, [“Country Gator Theater and Friends” Facebook page]