Alligator ‘Secretly’ Lived in Backyard of Van Nuys Home for 37 Years

Jaxson the Alligator (AP)
Associated Press

A woman’s pet alligator, which had been living in her Van Nuys home for 37 years, was taken away by Los Angeles Animal Services on Monday when it was discovered during a surprise search.

The female reptile, named Jaxson, had been something of an “open secret” among the neighbors who knew the gator and had seen her throughout the years, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It is illegal to own a reptile or any kind of wildlife without a permit for it, said Mark Sanchez, director of operations for Animal Services, to CBS News. “And obviously for an alligator, we wouldn’t permit that,” Sanchez said.

Accusations have mounted against the owner of the alligator, Laura Mattson, that she may have been taking stray or lost animals and feeding them to her eight-foot pet.

Mattson told CBS she has been taking care of Jaxson since 1977, “when Elvis Presley died.” Authorities had reportedly searched Mattson’s home in August, after a neighbor had tipped them off. But Jaxson was nowhere to be found.

Jaxson is currently in the possession of the L.A. County Zoo. Mattson had reportedly contacted the zoo to take Jaxson several years ago but they told her they could not because they had no room for her.

Adelle Nazarian is on Twitter: @AdelleNaz.