You may remember our post a few days ago about the small alligator purchased by Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. Dockett bought the croc on a recent trip to Florida, and named him "Nino," according to his Twitter account.
At least, that's what Dockett put out there.
However, according to a recent report on TMZ, the gator Dockett supposedly bought was in a facility that keeps rescue animals which are not for sale. Dockett was just joking around.
Either way, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is not amused by Dockett's new [alleged] buy. The press release:
PETA has written to the Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle to let him know that not only is keeping alligators as captive "pets" cruel to the animals and dangerous to humans—it may also be illegal. Florida regulates the keeping of alligators, and it's unlawful to keep an alligator as a pet anywhere in the state of Arizona without a special permit. PETA has offered to help Dockett find a suitable, natural habitat for the alligator.
"The exotic-animal trade is cruel and deadly," says PETA Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. "There are reasons why it's illegal to keep alligators as 'pets' in many jurisdictions—alligators are wild animals who suffer in captivity, and their inherently predatory nature and hard-to-meet needs can lead to tragic consequences."
The email to Dockett, dated July 7, read as follows:
Dear Mr. Dockett,
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was alerted this week to media reports indicating that you recently purchased a baby American alligator from the Florida Everglades and that you intend to keep him as a captive pet.
Please know that Florida heavily regulates the keeping of alligators and that it's unlawful to keep an alligator as a pet anywhere in the state of Arizona without a special permit. These prohibitive laws and regulations exist because, in addition to posing a threat to public safety, wild animals suffer greatly in captivity.
Alligators in the wild roam freely with members of their own kind, travel long distances, and thrive in the rivers and lakes that they call home. When confined, wild animals will exhibit neurotic and self-destructive behaviors because of extreme boredom, stress, and frustration at being unable to engage in natural behaviors.
Keeping an alligator as a pet is simply unfair to the animal. It also poses grave dangers to you and others. By their very nature, these animals are unpredictable and can inflict serious harm. Reptiles are also common carriers of salmonella. You would be held liable for any damage, injuries, or illnesses caused by the alligator.
Respectfully, we ask that you carefully consider this information. Please know that we stand ready to help find a suitable habitat for this animal. May we please hear that you will do the right thing?
We're sure that PETA will adjust its language to insist that joking about owning an alligator is illegal, too.
Asked recently on Twitter whether "Nino" eats snakes, Dockett gave up some intel: "NINO DONT EAT SNAKES, He LIKES RUTH CHRIS AND BOB EVANS Pancakes!"
So there, PETA. We sympathize with your aim in the abstract, but a little research [try calling his agent] would tip you to whether the gator was Dockett's or not.