Lifestyle & Human Interest

This Emotional Support Animal Would Have Most People Running Scared, But Owner Says 'He Loves People'


On a hot Friday afternoon, an unlikely animal decided to dip its toes and splash around in the cool, refreshing water.

Wally Gator, an emotional support alligator, caught visitors off-guard with its surprise appearance at John F. Kennedy Plaza — more commonly known as LOVE Park — a public area located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, according to Philly Voice.

Britt Miller took a stroll through the park with her three-month-old daughter, when she spotted Wally.

“We were just walking by LOVE Park and saw this kid playing with an alligator in the fountain,” Miller said.

“Of course, there was a ton of people around taking pictures. The girl (who had the alligator) seemed to be with her family, who were sitting off to the side. They were super friendly. People were picking up the alligator, petting it, all sorts of stuff,” she continued.

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@wallythealligator Wally loved spending the day in Love Park, Philadelphia !!#WallyGatorESA ♬ Good Time – Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen

A TikTok video was posted on Wally’s account, which showed the leash-trained gator being led around the park by a young girl. The video received over 127 thousand views, and the account has over 73 thousand followers. The bio stated, “WallyGator is a licensed emotional support animal!!!”

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Before he became a Pennsylvania gator, Wally was a Florida resident that lived at Disney World. He was rescued by Joie Henney in September 2016, after being removed from the property, according to York Dispatch.

Even Henney was skeptical when his doctor brought up the idea of registering Wally as an emotional support animal, he told The Wahington Post.

“I said, ‘Are you off your rocker? An alligator is the most feared animal in the world,’” he recalled.

Regardless, Henney left with a letter from his doctor and registered Wally on the U.S. Service Animals website. After it was approved, he received a certificate, a harness and a leash for his newly registered friend.

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“When he turns his nose toward you, that means he expects a kiss,” Henney said.

Along with a normal diet of chicken legs and dead rats, Wally also enjoys eating “cheesy popcorn,” according to his owner.

If Wally looks familiar, it is because he served as the visual reference for “Alligator Loki” in the Disney+ show “Loki,” according to WPMT.

The seven-year-old gator resides in York Haven, Pennsylvania, and frequently makes appearances, according to his Facebook page. His next appearance is at the York Fairy Festival on Sept. 17.

“He loves attention, (and) he loves people,” Henney said, according to York Dispatch.

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