ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A Palm Harbor woman was cited after Florida Wildlife officials say she “borrowed” a baby alligator from her previous job and kept it in a bathtub at a resort in Orange County.
According to an incident report, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer was called to the Grove Resort and Water Park in Winter Garden on Sept. 4 by Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputies requesting assistance dealing with an alligator in one of the rooms.
According to the report, a woman later identified as 25-year-old Madison Stephan admitted that she took the alligator from Croc Encounters in Tampa, where she previously worked.
The FWC officer said they took Stephan into the bathroom where they saw the alligator and began to ask her questions about how it got there.
The report says Stephan explained that she “borrowed” the alligator from Croc Encounters without permission to take pictures with it for her birthday. She said she went to Croc Encounters before they opened and used keys to the building that she still had to gain access and take the alligator.
According to the report, Stephan said she then drove the alligator to the resort tin Orange County and placed it in the bathtub with water in it.
The FWC officer noted that the alligator had no way to take itself out of the water and was cold to the touch.
The officer then called the CEO of Croc Encounters who confirmed that Stephan used to work there, but wasn’t currently employed and did not have permission to be on the property or take the alligator. He confirmed the business was missing one juvenile alligator but declined to prosecute Stephan for the theft or trespassing.
Stephan was still cited and issued a notice to appear for unlawful sale, possession, or transporting of an alligator.
According to FWC, the alligator was returned to Croc Encounters later that afternoon.
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