Another Long Island alligator gets new home

Joseph Yaiullo, curator and co-founder of L.I Aquarium

Joseph Yaiullo, curator and co-founder of L.I Aquarium and Exhibition Center in Riverhead, holds a two-year-old American alligator, discovered at the Great Rock Golf Course in Wading River. This is the fourth gator found roaming Long Island in five days. (Oct. 5, 2012) (Credit: Randee Daddona)

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An alligator found Monday on a Wading River golf course -- one of four young gators discovered roaming free on Long Island in five days -- has a new home at a Riverhead aquarium.

Jessica Eibs-Stankaitis, the animal control officer for the Town of Riverhead who captured the 21/2-foot-long gator at the Great Rock Golf Club, said Friday it was taken to the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center, where it will be on display.

Experts say each of the roaming gators likely was an illegal pet released by its owner because it got too large -- and expensive -- to care for.

Owning alligators or crocodiles is illegal in New York State, unless a special permit is granted for scientific or educational purposes or the reptile is to be exhibited, said Aphrodite Montalvo, spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Monday's discovery of a gator in a small drainage pond on the golf course brought the tally to four in less than a week.

"That was my first gator, and I've been doing this for a long time, about 15 years," said Brian Curtin, general manager of the Great Rock course.

On Sept. 28, a gator of about the same size was captured by a homeowner on the front lawn of a house in Mastic Beach. On Tuesday and Wednesday, single alligators about 3 feet long were found crawling across the parking lot of a supermarket in Baldwin.

The Mastic Beach gator was taken to Jungle Bob's, a pet store in Centereach, where it will be on display. The Baldwin alligators were expected to be given to a wildlife expert.

Keeping an alligator as a pet often requires having a large, glass aquarium, special lighting that simulates sunlight, and artificial rocks that provide heat for the reptile, Eibs-Stankaitis said.

"It's not an inexpensive thing," she said, "and then they can grow to 14 feet long and 700 pounds. People don't know what they are getting into when they get them."

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