Wally the emotional support alligator missing after trip to Georgia

Above: A previous interview with Wally and his owner.

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WPHL) – Philadelphia’s favorite emotional support alligator, Wally, has gone missing.

Wally, who became a viral sensation last year, was last seen on April 21, according to statements posted to his official Facebook account. Wally’s owner Joie Henney was vacationing in Brunswick, Georgia, with his emotional support pet when the alligator was reportedly stolen from his enclosure.

“I want to thank everyone for their support and their concern,” Henney wrote on Facebook. “Wally is very important to me as well as to a lot of other people that he makes happy and puts joy in their hearts.”

The administrator of Wally’s official Facebook page has since alleged that Wally was “was stolen by some jerk who likes to drop alligators off into someone’s yard to terrorize them.”

She went on to claim that officers from Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) were alerted by a homeowner to the gator in their yard, and, not knowing it was Wally, trapped him and dropped him in a swamp with other gators.

“The swamp is very large and the trapper said the chances of them finding Wally is slim to none,” she wrote on Facebook. Henney and some of his friends had also traveled to the swamp to begin their own search.

Wally had not been found as of Tuesday, according to updates posted to Facebook. A fundraiser was also organized to cover Henney’s expenses during the search.

Wally the emotional support alligator attends Flyers game

Over at Wally’s Facebook group, hundreds of people have been expressing their support for the missing gator and praying for his safe return.

Wally is believed to be the world’s only emotional support alligator, and was a finalist in the America’s Favorite Pet competition, and even inspired Alligator Loki in the Marvel franchise.

The first person Wally took care of was Henney himself.

“I lost three family members and four lifelong friends,” Henney said. “That all happened in two weeks, and my doctor wanted to give me antidepressants. I refused,” he said.

Instead, Henney adopted a rescue gator from Florida.

“He was just doing things I had never seen alligators do,” said Henney, who runs a reptile rescue organization.

Recued gators can’t be safely returned to the wild; other gators Henney has rescued have gone to zoos or wildlife refuge parks. But Wally, he kept for himself.

“If I’d lay there and fall asleep, he’d cuddle up beside me, put his head on my shoulder, his arm around me, which I really thought was extremely weird,” Henney said. “And he followed me around like a puppy.”

Henney later registered Wally as an emotional-support animal, figuring that Wally supported him through some of his most difficult times.

Wally’s legend grew, and Henney uses Wally’s charm to raise money for expenses — vet bills, food, and so forth — even though the money doesn’t completely cover the expenses.

You don’t get rich rescuing reptiles, Henney said, “but at least we save their lives.”

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