Polk County woman could be forced to give up pet gator

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Mary Thorn has owned her 15-year-old gator, Rambo, for 11 years, but she could soon lose the animal.

According to the Florida Wildlife Commission, alligators must be kept on 2.5 acres of property, which Thorn does not have, if the reptile is over 6 feet. The gator lives inside Thorn’s Lakeland home. Rambo has his own bedroom and Thorn dresses him in clothes every day.

"He does not like outside noises. If he hears crickets at night, he freaks and stuff like that, so he lives in my house," Thorn said.

Thorn said she rescued the alligator more than a decade ago from someone who had it illegally. She said it's never been in the wild and is part of her family.

Thorn said Rambo has helped her deal with a family tragedy.

"I lost my son in April (and) this has been my rock. If I lose him it's going to be a tossup. I just don't want to go on," Thorn said.

She said Rambo is gentle and very attached to her.

FWC said she does have the correct permit to own Rambo. Officials are reviewing her ownership of the animal.

Officials did not give a timeline on when they will make a decision.