Game wardens hunting for alligator thief

HOCHATOWN, Okla. - Game wardens are hunting for answers in a bizarre theft.

An alligator was abducted from a rescue in far southeast Oklahoma.

Authorities in Hochatown are trying to find the animal and those responsible.

Tammy Virgin, the owner and operator of the Hochatown rescue and petting zoo, said 'Petrie' the alligator used to live inside of a pool outside of the facility until someone stole him early Saturday morning.

"Walked by Petrie's pen to give him his morning treats, and Petrie wasn't in there," Virgin said. "For someone to just take him, it's not fair."

Petrie was taken to the rescue three years ago. Someone dropped him off in a tote. Since then, Virgin has been working to rehabilitate him.

"He had the whole bottom jaw from here all the way up on him was completely gone," she said.

Now, Virgin's heartbroken that he's gone.

"I'm worried about where he's at and what's happening to him, if he's being taken care of, if he's still getting fed," she said. "We kind of had a personal attachment to him. We were all pretty fond of him. We used him for all of our schools. All of the kids got to see him."

The thief or thieves are not only breaking the law by stealing the gator, but it could be costly too.

"Possession of the alligator could be a minimum of a $1,000 fine plus any cost and, depending on where the alligator was taken or what happened to the alligator, there could be initial cost with that as well," said Mark Hannah, an Oklahoma game warden.

Virgin hopes whoever took Petrie will do the right thing and take him back.

"We don't want to get anybody in trouble," she said. "We don't care what the issue was, just let him up here back in his pen so he can go back to the wild in the fall."

If you have any information in the case, contact the Oklahoma game wardens.

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