An 8-foot alligator believed to have been taken from a Texas zoo two decades ago and kept as a pet was recently returned to the zoo, officials said last week.
The alligator was brought back to the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo in New Braunfels on Friday, the zoo and the Texas Game Wardens said.
It was found after a game warden was investigating possible hunting without landowner’s permission on an adjacent property in rural Caldwell County, Game Wardens spokesperson Jen Shugert said.
“She was doing her due diligence, asking neighbors if they had seen or heard anything in the area, and that is when she stumbled upon the alligator,” Shugert said.
The zoo said in a video posted Friday that it's believed the alligator was stolen when it was an egg or a hatchling by a person who had been a zoo volunteer decades ago, the zoo said.
The person was given two citations, each of which carry up to a $500 fine, Shugert said. Their name was not released.
The decision to relocate the gator, named Tewa, was made by a judge in early February, Shugert said.
Game wardens reported Tewa was happy in her new habitat. She was being introduced to the other alligators and will live out her life at the facility, the zoo said in the video.
The zoo did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night.
Alligators are a native species in Texas, although it is much more common for authorities to get calls about them closer to the coast, like near Louisiana, Shugert said. Caldwell County is in Central Texas, south of Austin.
"The game warden who responded to this alligator situation, this was her first alligator call," she said.