Authorities seize ailing alligator kept illegally in New York home's swimming pool

HAMBURG, N.Y. (AP) — An ailing alligator was seized from an upstate New York home where it was being kept illegally, state officials said.

Environmental conservation police officers seized the 750-pound (340-kilogram), 11-foot-long (3.4-meter-long) alligator on Wednesday from a home in Hamburg, south of Buffalo.

The home's owner built an addition and installed an in-ground swimming pool for the 30-year-old alligator and allowed people, including children, to get into the water with the reptile, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The alligator has “blindness in both eyes” and spinal complications, among other health issues. The reptile was sent to a licensed caretaker until a place is found where it can receive permanent care, according to a release from the agency.

The owner's state license to keep the alligator expired in 2021. The state determined at that time the alligator’s holding area failed to meet safety standards. Officers took action this week after learning the “extent at which the owner was seriously endangering the public,” according to a statement from the agency.

Tony Cavallaro, who told The Associated Press the alligator, Albert, had been with him since the 1990s, promised to fight for his return. Cavallaro said he treated the alligator like it was his kid and that he never put anyone in danger.

“I'm not dangerous. I'm not being unsafe with people,” Cavallaro said.

State environmental officials haven't decided whether to bring charges.

Officials believe a lethargic 4-foot (1.2-meter) alligator found in Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn in February 2023 was likely an abandoned pet.