43 Reptiles Killed, Rare White Alligator Stolen in Florida: Police

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
June 27, 2018USshare

A burglary and arson at an animal sanctuary in Florida left dozens of reptiles dead while leading to the theft of a rare white alligator, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office said.

“It appears that the building was burglarized first and then set on fire after the theft of the rare alligator,” the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office said on Monday in a statement.

Officials said that “Sumter County Fire Rescue responded to the scene and once the fire was extinguished it was determined to be a total loss.”

After a search of the facility, they found that the rare Leucistic alligator, named Snowball, was stolen. Leucistic alligators appear similar to albino alligators, but they have blue eyes, making them rarer.

All of the other animals, 43 in all, were found dead in the building, sheriff’s office said.

“The deceased animals consisted of both alligators and crocodiles. The State Fire Marshal’s Office was contacted and is investigating the cause of the fire which at this time appears to be arson,” the office said.

The State Fire Marshall is investigating the cause of the fire, although there is evidence to suggest that the fire was set after the theft of the rare white alligator, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The sanctuary is run by the “Swamp Brothers,” featured in a reality TV show based on Stephen and Robbie Keszey which aired on the Discovery Channel in 2011 and 2012.

The two brothers pleaded for the return of their white alligator, and Florida theme park Gatorland, on its website, says that there are only about a dozen of the white gators around the world.

Keszey told the New York Times that Snowball could be worth $100,000 or more, adding, however, that “this gator can’t be sold.”

“Everyone in the world knows this gator,” he told the Times. “Whoever has it has no outlet to get rid of it.”

“It scares me in a way, because I don’t want someone killing Snowball or throwing Snowball into a lake or river,” he told the paper, adding: “Obviously the person who did this doesn’t care because they killed all my other crocodilian.”

“To me, he was priceless,” he added. “Snowball was like my best friend. I’d handle him every day. We just want Snowball back.”

He told police that he last saw Snowball on Friday at around 11:30 a.m.


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