Wildlife experts respond to Audubon Zoo alligator thefts

Published: Jul. 5, 2012 at 10:05 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2012 at 6:57 PM CDT
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Alligator at Insta-Gator Hatchery in Covington
Alligator at Insta-Gator Hatchery in Covington

Someone swiped 10 small alligators from a swamp exhibit at the Audubon Zoo. The zoo isn't giving details about how the hatchlings were stolen, but the NOPD hopes to recover them and alligator experts are concerned.

"As soon as they hatch out of an egg, they will do a death roll on your finger," said Jim Piculas of the Insta-Gator Hatchery as he lead a tour group at the Covington site.  There are hatchlings similar to the ones stolen from a swamp exhibit at the Audubon Zoo at the farm.

"You'd think a baby alligator that size wouldn't be dangerous but they still bite," said Alex Price, who has been bitten before. His family owns the farm.  "When they bite you, these little alligators, they have bacteria in their mouths.  When the cuts heal you'll have infection in your hand and it won't heal for weeks."

Gators can grow up to 19 feet and live for a hundred years. Price says the person who stole them may not realize what they have.

"A lot of people think if you keep them in a tank that's smaller, they won't get any bigger than that tank, and that's also not true," Price said.  "I'm not sure how their set up is, I don't know if it's an inside job or if someone with the public stole it.  I'd just ask them to bring them back and get tighter security."