LAKELAND (FOX 13) - We've told you before about Mary Thorn and her beloved pet alligator, Rambo.
Mary even has a bedroom for the six-foot gator inside her Lakeland home, but she has been fighting Florida Wildlife workers for months to keep Rambo at home. Because he’s gotten so big, they felt like she didn't have enough land for it to roam.
But FWC officers finally decided to allow Rambo to stay.
"Let's say you're shooting a motion picture and you want an animal to stay on a log, cause most gators go underneath the water, he's taught to prop. He'll stay until he's called in. He doesn't head butt you. He doesn't scratch you. He doesn't bite you like other gators will do," Thorn explained of Rambo’s training and temperament. "When he's smiling, I can kiss him all in the face."
Mary rescued Rambo when he was 4-years-old. Because he was kept inside for the first years of his life, he doesn’t know how to be a “typical” alligator.
"He does a lot of things that normal people wouldn't think a gator could do. In the house, he plays with the dogs." Thorn explained, joking, "If I could train them to be as well as him."
Mary said the issues began when FWC changed rules about keeping alligators in captivity. Rambo was supposed to be “grandfathered in” under the new rules, but a mix-up in paperwork meant she either had to give him more outdoor space, or give him up.
"Now I just won the right to keep him for the rest of his life or the rest of my life,” Mary said. “It's really awesome. He's grown up with all my kids and stuff. Losing a member of your family is not cool, so I'm glad they decided the way they did."
Mary said she’s no longer allowed to take Rambo to charity events, as she has for so many years. But she seemed okay with the compromise, as long as her buddy gets to stay under her care.
"He plays with my grandkids. He plays with the kids. He is scared of the outside noises like birds and weird noises outside, so he can't stay outside at all. He hasn't learned to be a normal gator. He never has," Mary said.