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  • News 4 Buffalo

    Documents shed more light on DEC’s seizure of Albert the alligator in Hamburg

    By Kelsey Anderson,


    BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The alligator saga in Hamburg continues.

    The owner of Albert, the alligator that was seized by the DEC last month, and his lawyers told News 4 WIVB they haven’t heard from the organization since the reptile was taken, and they’re not sure if he’s OK.

    Tony Cavallaro and his lawyers said they’ve been trying to get a hold of the DEC since Albert was taken more than five weeks ago, but it’s been radio silent.

    “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster,” Cavallaro said. “I break down several times a day. Anger, because they won’t answer us with nothing. That’s what caused this whole problem to begin with is them being negligent to answer any questions.”

    In a statement this week, the DEC said they would not release any information until an investigation is complete. The statement goes on to say they told Cavallaro repeatedly that his facility for Albert was deficient.

    When Albert was taken, the DEC told WIVB that Cavallaro “failed to meet specific conditions to ensure the alligator did not come in contact with humans and did not pose a threat to humans or the animal.”

    But Cavallaro said he tried to get in compliance the past several years, and the DEC ignored his calls and emails.

    Documents obtained by News 4 WIVB shed some light on the case.

    Documents said in November of 2020, Cavallaro received a letter from the DEC, letting him know he had to comply with new state rules for owning a dangerous animal.

    Cavallaro told News 4 that he responded, saying he’s had the alligator and a license for many years, which the documents corroborate. He filled out paperwork to get in compliance — and even asked the DEC to visit, to make sure everything was OK.

    Cavallaro also told the DEC that people do come and see the gator on a regular basis.

    After that, the DEC didn’t give Cavallaro a substantial response.

    Then, in February of this year, there was a complaint that Cavallaro was allowing people, including kids, to see the alligator. Not long after, Albert was taken.

    “We just want to be able to talk to somebody at the DEC and try to negotiate with them to see what we can do come into compliance and get the alligator back,” Peter Kooshoian, Cavallaro’s attorney, said.

    Cavallaro says he’ll do whatever to get in compliance, including never allowing anyone in Albert’s enclosure ever again.

    “I just want to know that the animal is OK,” Cavallaro said. “That’s the big thing… this is not right, I know how to take care of this animal.”

    Kelsey Anderson is an award-winning anchor who came back home to Buffalo in 2018. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter .

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