Most people would be shaking with fear at the very thought of getting up close and personal with an alligator, but not Angela Lance!
The 44-year-old from Pennsylvania keeps a 4.5ft alligator, named LillyGator, as a pet. And that’s not all – she even dresses the reptile up in cute frocks, tiaras and sunglasses.
She explains, ‘she’s pretty close to being the most pampered alligator in the world. She is definitely spoilt.’
‘I’m not sure there are other alligators that are getting foot massages and manicures!’
‘Dressing her up and painting her nails is more fun for me. It makes her seem less intimidating.’
As well as dressing her up in fancy clothes, Angela also takes LillyGator for walks on a lead – something that attracts plenty of attention when she’s out and about!
Angela says, ‘I get some crazy reactions when I take her outside on the lead. Obviously most people are afraid if they hear her hissing. Most people think that alligators cannot be domesticated and they’re 100% accurate. But they also can be very docile and I do disagree with the conception that they can’t have feelings.’
Far from being an advocate for keeping alligators as pets, Angela is using her experience of raising LillyGator to encourage other people to be more responsible owners.’
She explains, ‘I’ve always loved alligators and about 6 years ago I happened upon some teenagers that had an alligator. Its conditions were horrible so I rescued it and nursed it back to health. Eventually I did have to take it to a sanctuary.’
Ever since that moment, Angela was desperate to have another alligator to care for and bought LillyGator when she was just a tiny hatchling.
‘I got her when she was 2 and a half days old. She turned 4 in August and she’s been like my baby since.’
‘When I first got her I used to just lay her on my chest and rock back and forth with her to make her comfortable and it’s something that seems to calm her.’
It is currently legal to own an alligator in Angela’s home state of Pensylvania but there are still other problems to consider, as Lily grows older. Especially as she won’t be so little forever!
Angela says, ‘She will continue to grow. Because she is a female and in captivity she will probably not reach the 10ft!
Although she has faced criticism for trying to domesticate an alligator and live with such a ferocious animal, Angela remains confident that she is doing the right thing.
‘She has no desire to eat you, or me or anyone else.’
‘Lily does have a better life with me than she would if she was just wandering around in the wild. There’s no predators here.’
‘She gets a lot of attention and affection and I really think she likes that.’