Over the years, California’s San Fernando Valley has been known for its motion picture studios, aerospace technology and nuclear research.
One thing “The Valley,” located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, was not recognized for was alligators. Until this week, that is.
Officers from the Los Angeles Animal Services Department discovered an 8-foot alligator Monday inside a wooden crate at a home in Van Nuys, where it is believed to have lived for nearly 40 years, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“We tried to give him a good home,” said Ron Gorecki, 53, who was among those caring for the gator, named Jaxson, for the last two years. The alligator’s original owner was Gorecki’s brother-in-law, who died last year. “He loved him; it was his pride and joy.”
The alligator was purchased at a Los Angeles pet shop 37 years ago. At first, Jaxson lived inside the home, Gorecki said.
Once he grew, Jaxson became a decidedly “outdoor” pet.
The alligator’s presence was something of an open secret in the neighborhood: “Everybody knew Jaxson,” Gorecki said.
When investigators arrived at the home Monday, the crate housing Jaxson was covered in foliage and other debris, according to an official with Animal Services.
Along with the alligator, animal control officers found two cat carcasses inside the crate. One suspects that there weren’t a whole lot of strays in Jaxson’s neighborhood.
The alligator was then taken to the Los Angeles Zoo, with zoo staff helping with transportation. Once at the zoo, Jaxson underwent a health examination but results weren’t immediately available.
Animal Services is continuing a criminal investigation and anticipates forwarding the case to the city attorney for prosecution, according to a statement from the department.
Keeping wildlife without a permit is illegal in Los Angeles, and department Commander Mark Salazar said the home’s occupants lacked a permit for the alligator.
It’s unclear what species Jaxson is, but American Alligators typically live 65 to 80 years in captivity, the Times reported.
(Top: Jaxson, the 8-foot alligator found in a San Fernando Valley home earlier this week. Photo Credit: Los Angeles Department of Animal Services.)