Petition launched for Lakeland woman to keep pet gator

- A community is coming together in support of a Lakeland woman who is fighting to keep her pet alligator of 10 years.

FOX 13 News first introduced you to Mary Thorn after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission warned she may have to give up her alligator, Rambo, due to a licensing issue.

Since then, a petition has been launched on Change.org, asking the director of the FWC to allow Rambo to stay in Thorn's care. As of this writing, more than 1,700 people have signed.

The creator plans to submit the petition when they reach their goal of 2,500 supporters.

Meanwhile, Thorn said positive messages from around the world have poured in to a Facebook page she set up for her mission to keep Rambo.

Thorn said she also received calls from national media, including the Steve Harvey Show, about her story.

She said some have accused her of looking for reality TV fame, but said she is not interested in attention. She said she is "actually a very private person," but wants to make sure Rambo can stay in her care.

Thorn purchased a Class II license from the FWC in 2012, just before it changed regulations about keeping alligators as pets.

Since then, Rambo has grown. Now, he’s longer than six feet and, according to the FWC, a pet alligator that size must live on two-and-a-half acres or more of land.

Thorn said the FWC intended to allow her to keep Rambo since she got her license before the new rules went into effect, but due to a misplaced address on a form Mary filled out for her license, the case was flagged, putting Rambo's situation at risk. 

Thorn said she resubmitted the paperwork, per FWC's request, and was waiting to hear back on the processing of her application. She said she may have to appear before a judge to clear the issue up.

Thorn said Rambo has never lived in the wild, and had already developed sensitivity to sunlight by the time she rescued him 10 years ago. If he’s taken from her, Mary insists he will die.

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