Coconut Grove Man's Best Friend Is a Pizza- and Cookie-Loving Alligator

Coconut Grove Man's Best Friend Is a Pizza- and Cookie-Loving Alligator
Illustration by Alvaro Diaz-Rubio

A lot of weird things happen in Florida. Every Friday, we're here to bring you the week's weirdest. But there is nothing weird about befriending a pizza-loving alligator.

Buzzkill Government Tried to Take Away Man's Best Friend, an Alligator That Loves Junk Food

There is something so terribly '90s about an alligator that loves pizza and chocolate-chip cookies. Longtime Coconut Grove resident Gwendolyn the alligator, seen in the above video snacking on his daily diet of pizza and Chips Ahoy (Gwen is male), could have been a pretty radical spokesperson for an early-'90s microwave-pizza company. He could have ridden some sort of rocket-powered skateboard.

But Gwen, like the rest of us, is just a regular Floridian who loves swimming and high-carb snacks. According to WVSN, Gwen has been living with his human compatriot David Van Buren for the past 47 years. As seen in the clip, Van Buren, who keeps Gwen in a tiny pond behind his home in the Grove, feeds his alligator a steady diet of pizza and cookies, which must make herpetologists and reptile veterinarians reading this scream in agony. Van Buren was 9 years old when he met Gwen, and Van Buren even took the alligator to college with him.

But this week, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials descended upon Van Buren's home because they say Gwen, who is 13 feet long, is too big to stay in the tiny enclosure Van Buren has set up at his home. But Van Buren, whose reptilian pal was taken away from him once already in the past, refuses to let animal control place a hand on his buddy. That's actually for the best: Even FWC officials say Gwen has become so used to living with Van Buren that it's actually safer to keep the two friends together, because bonds made over pizza are bonds that last a lifetime.

The bonnethead shark seen above has no idea whether it got to that aquarium legally or not.
The bonnethead shark seen above has no idea whether it got to that aquarium legally or not.
CPXi via Flickr Creative Commons

Florida Keys Couple Pleads Guilty to Illegal Shark Trafficking

Name the item, and it's been sold illegally by some sort of Florida theft ring. Rolexes. Strange animal meats. Entire identities. Dealing with cartels is just an everyday part of being a discerning Florida consumer.

So when anyone from the Florida Keys offers you a rare-looking shark, the first words out of your mouth ought to be "Was this shark stolen?"

On Monday, a Keys couple, Leah Gould, 51, and Philip Gould, 57, pleaded guilty to charges of illegally trafficking juvenile bonnethead sharks, which are basically tiny hammerheads. The Goulds, who ran a marine-supply company, had apparently been buying sharks from an unlicensed "shark harvester," which is a job title that would make a great LinkedIn bio. Apparently, the illegal-shark dealers had been plucking the fish from the Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge.

It seems the U.S. government really takes shark thievery seriously, because it apparently set up an entire law-enforcement sting to catch the Goulds:

"Phillip Gould personally transported four bonnethead sharks by rental truck to St. Louis, Missouri, where they were transferred to the St. Louis Zoo, in a sale set up by a middle-man located in Las Vegas, Nevada, and that in November 2012, Leah Gould negotiated the sale of four bonnethead sharks in interstate commerce to a customer located in Atlanta, Georgia," a government news release said. "In Court, the government revealed that the transaction had been recorded by government agents."

Fort Lauderdale Man Uses a Guitar to Try to Rob a Man

Edward J. Chestnut III needed a laptop. So, police say, he ran up to Daniel Wolfe in Oakland Park Monday and tried to yank a laptop right out of Wolfe's hands. (Wolfe was on his way to the library.) A tug-of-war ensued.

That, police say, is when Chestnut swung an electric guitar at Wolfe, leaving him with a gash that required four stitches.

Some obvious questions the cops didn't answer: Where, exactly, did Chestnut get the guitar? Was it strapped to his back? Was it in one of his hands? Does he travel like that all the time? How did he somehow both tug on a laptop and clobber a man with a guitar with only two hands? And where was he going that he needed both a laptop and an electric guitar immediately?

Jail. He was going to jail.


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