260 Exotic Animals Have Escaped in Florida in the Past Decade
A lot of weird things happen in Florida. On Fridays, we're here to bring you the oddest. This week: the insane number of escaped exotic pets in Florida, an alligator flung through a Wendy's drive-thru window, and a criminal 8-year-old.
Florida Has an Exotic Animal Escape Problem
It seems like every other week there's a weird story of an exotic animal kept as a pet or in captivity escaping its enclosure in Florida — whether it's a cute-looking kinkajou or a venomous cobra. Turns out, every other week is about the rate it happens.
Orlando's News 6 discovered that over the past decade, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has received 260 calls about exotic animals escaping. That's 26 every year, or two a month. Keep in mind, these are just the cases that people bother to report to FWC.
Monkeys and other primates are the biggest jail breakers. About 100 have escaped in Florida this decade, including lemurs, orangutans, and chimpanzees. Some of the animals are kept as pets, while others escape from animal sanctuaries. The number also includes an orangutan that escaped its enclosure at Busch Gardens and caused a temporary evacuation of parts of the park. In another case, 30 monkeys intended to be used for research purposes were released from a facility in Miami. An animal right's group claimed responsibility.
Snakes account for 45 of those escapes, including 19 Burmese pythons.
The largest animal to escape in Florida was an elephant, which, in 2007, briefly walked out of its accidentally open enclosure and wound up in the middle of a road.
Turns out eight owners in Florida have had to call FWC twice to report escapes. Three owners have had to call three times. Only one animal, Zeke, a macaque monkey kept as a pet in Sanford, has escaped three times. Zeke's latest escape was this past September.
Man Tosses Alligator Through a Wendy's Drive-Thru Window
Working at a fast-food restaurant isn't exactly glamorous. You make minimum wage, and apparently you've got to worry about customers throwing apex predator reptiles at you.
The incident happened in October at 1:20 in the morning. After receiving his drink at a Palm Beach County Wendy's, a young man tossed a three-and-a-half-foot alligator through the store window and sped off. Luckily, no one was hurt. After months, authorities finally tracked down a suspect: 24-year-old Joshua James.
James admitted to the crime and said he found the alligator on the side of the road and decided to put it in his truck.
“He's a prankster," his mother told WPTV. "He does stuff like this because he thinks it's funny."
He was charged with illegally possessing an alligator and petty theft. He was also ordered to stay away from all Wendy's restaurants and is forbidden from owning any animals.
The alligator was released into the wild.
Eight-Year-Old Uses His Mom's Gun to Try to Rob Grocery Store
"When I grabbed my purse, it was so light,” mother Eboni Alls told WFTV. “I'm like, I knew I was missing something. I said, ‘Where my gun?’ The first thing I thought was, I hope Jaden don't have my gun." Turns out 8-year-old Jaden did have her gun, and instead of heading to the park like he told his mom, he was on his way to baby's first robbery.
The boy, armed with the handgun and a BMX helmet to cover his face, walked into the King Foods & Meat Bazaar, pointed the gun at a cashier, and demanded money.
An employee was able to grab the kid and get the gun away from him.
The boy will not face charges, but he's been banned from the grocery store and will enter a diversion program.
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