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Man Has an Emotional Support Gator

Joie Henney has an unusual emotional support animal. Whereas others might find comfort and solace in dogs or cats, Henney’s companion is WallyGator, a 70-pound swamp native alligator. Henney says, “When he turns his nose toward you, that means he expects a kiss.” And he should know, because WallyGator accompanies him pretty much everywhere. They take walks to the park or the grocery store together. They watch TV on the couch together. They even sleep in the same bed.

Henney knows that others might be freaked out by the arrangement. Instead, he makes it a point to share his relationship with others. He says, “He’s super sweet-natured.” That said, Henney isn’t naïve about the situation. “He’s a very special gator, but I wouldn’t recommend that anyone get one. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you will get bit.”

Henney’s relationship with WallyGator started back in 2015 when a friend asked him to take care of a few gators that were discovered in a pool in Orlando. Two of them quickly found other homes, but something about one of the 14-month baby gators caught his eye. He said he was surprised when WallyGator, then 20 inches long, didn’t try to bite him when he held him or fed him chicken legs. Henney said, “He wouldn’t eat live rats, and he really showed a love for cheesy popcorn. I thought it was different, but I was still very cautious around him.” It didn’t take long, he said, before WallyGator began to follow him around the house like a curious pup. He said his leathery roomie showed affection by staying close to him and being docile. Then, in 2017, several members of Henney’s family died, leaving him sad and grieving. That was when he and his unusual pet really bonded.

Raul Diaz is a biologist at California State University in Los Angeles. He says alligators are normally quite defensive because their biological wiring is predatory in nature. [Henney] is an exception when it comes to caring for an alligator. Wildlife experts agree: Alligators generally don’t make good pets, and they’re illegal to own in many states. The animals can also be deadly. Last month, an 80-year-old Florida woman was killed when she fell into a golf course pond and was attacked by two alligators.

Possible Preaching Angle:

Sleeping with an alligator is not recommended, but it does illustrate that God has all of creation at his disposal to help meet our needs.

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