The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has charged a Plant City minor with animal cruelty after seeing the worst kind of clout-chasing video circulating on social media.
The video, recorded last Thursday in a Plant City Hardee’s parking lot, shows a group of teens handling a juvenile alligator roughly. One uses the gator’s teeth to puncture a can of Arizona Twisted Tea, then shotgun the alcoholic beverage with the young reptile still clamped to the aluminum can.
“The lack of respect and responsibility shown toward this animal was disappointing to see. … This serves as a strong reminder of the consequences of such behavior,” the FWC said in a statement after opening an investigation into the tea-drinking teen.
Tampa station WFLA showed the video to Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation president Vernon Yates, who said, “This has got to stop.”
Seeing the teen basically use the reptile as a sentient drink holder, then drop it on the hot parking-lot pavement, the wildlife rehab expert noted that the gator seemed stunned, with the comment, “Normally, a little alligator about that size, when he hit the ground he should’ve hit it running.”
Yates noted that the gator may have been abused prior to the beginning of the video.
“In my opinion, everyone they got on video that touched it needs to be brought in front of a judge,” Yates said.
The alligator was released (relatively) unharmed to a nearby retention pond, according to the FWC. Here’s hoping it stays away from bored teenagers in the future.
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