Florida Woman Gets License to Keep Her Pet Alligator 'Rambo'

The gator loves being petted and going on walks on a leash, its owner said.

December 21, 2016, 5:52 PM

— -- After months of negotiation with state officials, a Florida woman has finally received a license allowing her to keep her pet alligator.

The gentle gator named Rambo is "like a dog" and loves being petted and going for walks on a leash, according to his owner, Mary Thorn, 55, of Lakeland, Florida.

Rambo is also somewhat of a local celebrity and has been the star of small shows that Thorn has put on for a few charities and organizations in her area. The "trained" gator has even been photographed "riding an ATV" along with her on her motorcycle, Thorn said.

PHOTO:Mary Thorn of Lakeland, Florida, says her pet alligator Rambo, pictured here, is "trained" and "not like normal gators."
Mary Thorn of Lakeland, Florida, says her pet alligator Rambo, pictured here, is "trained" and "not like normal gators."
Mary Thorn

But earlier this year, in March, the gator garnered national attention when Thorn said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) denied her a permit to keep him.

Thorn told ABC News at the time that she had a permit to keep the 15-year-old American alligator ever since she rescued and brought him home more than seven years ago -- when Rambo was just a little over a foot long.

PHOTO:Mary Thorn of Lakeland, Florida, says her pet alligator Rambo, pictured here, is "trained" and "not like normal gators."
Mary Thorn of Lakeland, Florida, says her pet alligator Rambo, pictured here, is "trained" and "not like normal gators."
Mary Thorn

However, the gator has grown to be over 6 feet, and a recently added condition for a permit stated that gators over 6 feet needed to be kept on a property with at least 2.5 acres of land, FWC spokesman Gary Morse told ABC News in March.

"This is a very complex case, especially since she acquired the gator before some changes in permit conditions," Morse said at the time. He explained that Thorn had re-applied for a permit earlier this year and was originally denied, but a number of issues had since been raised so the case was in the process of being reviewed.

PHOTO:Mary Thorn of Lakeland, Florida, says her pet alligator Rambo, pictured here, is "trained" and "not like normal gators."
Mary Thorn of Lakeland, Florida, says her pet alligator Rambo, pictured here, is "trained" and "not like normal gators."
Mary Thorn

Thorn's lawyer, Spencer Sheehan, told ABC News today that after months of negotiating with the FWC, Thorn recently received news she would be allowed to keep Rambo.

According to a settlement agreement between the FWC and Thorn -- which the FWC shared with ABC News today -- the FWC said it would issue Thorn a personal pet license, "authorizing Thorn to possess an American alligator known as 'Rambo'" at her home address.

PHOTO:Mary Thorn of Lakeland, Florida, says her pet alligator Rambo, pictured here, is "trained" and "not like normal gators."
Mary Thorn of Lakeland, Florida, says her pet alligator Rambo, pictured here, is "trained" and "not like normal gators."
Mary Thorn

The main difference between this license and previous licenses Thorn had in the past is that this one does not authorize Thorn to exhibit Rambo in public for classes or charity, Shenan told ABC News.

"It's a little unfortunate because Rambo has brought a lot of joy to the community, but [Thorn] is of course very happy she isn't losing him," Sheehan said.

PHOTO:Mary Thorn of Lakeland, Florida, says her pet alligator Rambo, pictured here, is "trained" and "not like normal gators."
Mary Thorn of Lakeland, Florida, says her pet alligator Rambo, pictured here, is "trained" and "not like normal gators."
Mary Thorn

Thorn told ABC News today that she was "so glad that Rambo gets to stay home for the holidays."

"He is my baby," she said. "It's the best Christmas gift not having to worry anymore."

PHOTO:Mary Thorn of Lakeland, Florida, says her pet alligator Rambo, pictured here, is "trained" and "not like normal gators."
Mary Thorn of Lakeland, Florida, says her pet alligator Rambo, pictured here, is "trained" and "not like normal gators."
Mary Thorn

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