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Reward offered in case of gator found with eyes, snout taped

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Gatorland is joining in the search for the person or people who left an alligator in Seminole County with its mouth and eyes taped shut.

“I was absolutely outraged, I mean that anyone would do that to any living creature,” said Savannah Boan, of Gatorland.

The Orlando attraction added $1,000 in reward money after WKMG told them about the incident that occurred near Wekiwa Island.

Boan said those who handle the reptiles do cover the eyes of an alligator to make it feel safe for the animal as if it was in a cave. They do this at Gatorland when they have to move larger gators. However, Boan said to tape both its eyes and mouth is not OK.

“To do that to a wild alligator is absolutely -- I mean, that is just something I have never even heard of before,” Boan said.

Barbra and Jack Thornton reported the initial incident back in April and put up $500 of their own money, but say they didn’t expect all this support.

“I’m just blown away because this started as a Nextdoor post I made after we discovered (it), and since then it’s absolutely snowballed,” said Jack Thornton.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says they are looking into the incident and remind people that it is a felony to kill, capture or possess a gator in the state.

A law, the Thornton’s say, people need to follow.

“Just because they might look scary or you may have heard a scary story, we have to learn about our animals we live around and we have to respect that,” Barbra Thornton said.

Gatorland officials say if anyone else happens to find a distressed gator to contact them so they can provide it with a forever home.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the FWC or your local authorities.

About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.