PHILADELPHIA — What does one do when spotting an alligator on a leash at a park? Give it a wide berth.
WallyGator, an emotional support 5-foot alligator in the running to be named America’s favorite pet, stopped by Philadelphia’s Love Park on Friday, WPVI-TV reported. The gator was seen making friends and enjoying water features at the park, according to People.
“We were just walking by Love Park and saw this kid playing with an alligator in the fountain,” Britt Miller, who documented the alligator frolicking in the water in a Twitter post, told the Philly Voice. “Of course, there was a ton of people around taking pictures. The girl (who had the alligator) seemed to be with her family, who were sitting off to the side. They were super friendly. People were picking up the alligator, petting it, all sorts of stuff.”
A video on Wally’s official TikTok account shows him getting media attention while sitting on the lap of an older man, People reported. The man is likely his owner, Joie Henney. Posted for all the alligator’s more than 69,000 followers, the caption said “Wally enjoyed the day in Philadelphia!”
Henney is currently undergoing radiation for prostate cancer. He adopted Wally in 2016, the Philly Voice reported.
“He’s a big supporter of people needing smiles,” Henney told WPVI. “He works with a lot of special needs adults and children. He puts thousands of smiles on people’s faces almost every day. He comforts people when they’re sad.”
Wally is currently the top vote-getter in America’s Favorite Pet Animal Kingdom, a popularity contest that supports animal rescue and rehabilitation. The winner of the contest will get $10,000.
Henney said he does not know why the alligator has never been aggressive or attacked humans or other animals. He has started a GoFundMe page to help and feed the alligators he uses as support animals.
But if you want to be friends, Wally enjoys cheese puffs, WPVI reported.
“It seemed totally calm, I guess, for an alligator, you know?” Miller told the Philly Voice. “It wasn’t reacting at all.”
No matter how friendly Wally looked, Miller decided that it would be better for her and her 3-month-old baby to watch the amiable alligator from a distance.
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