Nothing stirs the Christmas spirit like seeing a woman kissing an alligator dressed as Santa Claus full on the mouth.
Mary Thorn’s rescue gator Rambo is her companion and business partner. Thorn made a living showing off the seemingly tame 6 foot reptile at parties and events but the state tried to take Rambo away. Florida law requires that gators over 4 feet long be housed on at least 2.5 acres. Rambo lives in Mary Thorn’s house.
Thorn and her lawyer managed to get her an exemption but there are conditions.
Worried that her house gator would be taken away, Thorn asked attorney Spencer Sheehan of Great Neck, N.Y., for help getting an exemption. According to court documents, she reached an agreement with FWC in September, which then issued her a personal pet license in November specific to Rambo. Now she can keep the gator — as long as she abides by certain conditions.
“He can’t go out and do public things anymore,” Thorn said. “He can’t be one-on-one with people and his mouth has to be taped shut. He used to do pictures with kids and stuff like that, but no more.”
The alligator came into Thorn’s care as a rescue after being kept in a dark closet for the first four years of his life, which Thorn said left him with a skin condition that makes him sensitive to light. Rambo is known in the Lakeland area for wearing fun outfits from Santa costumes to leather jackets, which the Polk County woman said prevents sunburn.
Alligators get sunburned? I’m no herpetologist but don’t they lie out in the sun all the time? No wonder they have such scaly skin.
Regularly taking in disabled rescue animals such as squirrels and opossums, Thorn said she takes issue with the term “personal pet” in her new license.
“I don’t believe alligators should be pets. In my shows, I preach that,” the former alligator farm worker said. “The only reason I have Rambo is because he’s a rescue.”
Still, Thorn said she decided not to push it.
“In order to keep him I’m not going to argue with them too much,” Thorn said.
That sounds wise, but it means a loss of income for Thorn.
Though things are tight, Thorn she is glad to know she can continue with planning her annual holiday festivities with Rambo and her other critters — she also has five dogs. She said Rambo will enjoy turkey, ham, and his favorite — green beans — at Christmas dinner with her family this weekend.
“All in all it’s going to be a merry Christmas because Rambo is here,” Thorn said.
God bless us, everyone.