Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA staffers were bidding farewell Tuesday to Tina the Alligator, who has been living at the society’s campus for 18 years but will be moved Wednesday to the Los Angeles Zoo, where she’ll become a companion to one of the zoo’s most notable residents — Reggie the Alligator.
Reggie famously lurked in a Harbor City lake for nearly two years, eluding repeated capture attempts before he was finally corralled in 2007 and given a home at the zoo.
Up until now, however, Reggie has been living the single life in a private enclosure. That will change this week when Tina is moved to the zoo and is slowly introduced to Reggie in the habitat.
But the zoo’s April Spurlock says the move doesn’t necessarily mean wedding bells for Reggie. Zoo staff aren’t viewing Tina’s move as a breeding effort — in other words, the two will only be roommates, and hopefully friends.
“Tina isn’t a breeding partner for Reggie,” Spurlock told City News Service.”They’ll share the same habitat and hopefully get along as friendly companions.”
Both gators are believed to be in their 20s, Spurlock said.
But what’s good news for Reggie is a bittersweet moment for the Pasadena Humane Society, where Tina has been living since 1998. According to the society, Tina was taken in when a traveling educational wildlife exhibit was forced to close due to permitting problems.
Ricky Whitman, vice president of community relations for the Humane Society, told CNS the agency was able to find placement for most of the wildlife it took in from the exhibit, but Tina wound up sticking around. She quickly became a fixture at the campus, where the staff built a 150-square-foot enclosure complete with a waterfall.
“It’s hard to find a spot for an alligator,” Whitman said. “We were able to handle her well. We were able to give her what she needed. … She has a reasonable habitat and we were able to feed her appropriately. She had a vet visit checkup every year and we had permits — we did have the wildlife permits for her.
“That being said, don’t try to keep an alligator in captivity,” she said.
The 7-foot-long, 100-pound-plus gator has been a centerpiece of student tours of the campus, and a favorite of the staff and volunteers.
“It is a very bittersweet day,” Whitman said. “She’s been a large part of our shelter here for easily 18 years.”
But Whitman also said she’s not expecting any budding romance between Tina and Reggie.
“She’s a much older woman,” she joked.
Tina’s move adds another chapter to the local legend of Reggie, who was first spotted at Lake Machado in Harbor city in the summer of 2005. Authorities said a resident who was raising exotic animals at his home dumped Reggie into the lake after he grew too big. Alligators are not native to California, and keeping them as pets is illegal.
Several animal wranglers attempted to catch Reggie after he was first spotted. They included a team from Florida’s Gatorland theme park, a Hurricane Katrina refugee who called himself “T-Bone” and “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, who tried unsuccessfully to track down the gator and, before his death, had vowed to return.
Reggie managed to avoid capture until May 2007, when he was spotted sunning himself on the bank of Lake Machado by a Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department maintenance worker who summoned a posse including several L.A. firefighters who were finally able to corral him.
Until then, the effort to capture Reggie, along with security measures to protect the public at the park, had cost the city $180,000, officials said.
–City News Service