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Pet gator nabbed in Wading River store

Specially-trained officers from the Suffolk County SPCA's Emergency

Specially-trained officers from the Suffolk County SPCA's Emergency Animal Response Team (EART) responded to Alpine Wine & Liquor in Wading River and removed an illegally possessed alligator on Wednesday, September 29. Photo Credit: SPCA

See ya later, alligator!

An illegally kept pet alligator seized last week from a Wading River liquor store has been sent to an animal sanctuary in Massachusetts, said Chief Roy Gross of the Suffolk Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Although the 3-foot-long American alligator had been well cared for at the store, Alpine Wine & Liquor, owning one breaks state law, said Gross, whose officers confiscated the gator on Wednesday.

"This is not the kind of pet you should have," he said. "They're dangerous. It's a wild animal."

The store proprietor, Nancy Corcione, said she cared for the gator, feeding it poultry and 45 goldfish every day - "It used to eat right out of my hand," she said - and housing it in a big tank with sand.

"Its name was Nancy. It was a little girl," she said. "My employees named it Nancy because it was cute and nasty - just like me."

Corcione said an employee asked her to look after the animal while he was apartment hunting, saying he would take her back when he found a place. That was about three months ago.

Until the authorities told her otherwise, Corcione said, she'd believed that the animal was a monitor lizard, not an alligator.

"When they said, 'It's an alligator,' I said, 'Oh, my God, is it?' " Corcione said.

Two people at the store, at 6277 Route 25A, were ticketed for possessing the animal; Gross wouldn't identify them.

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