LANSING, Ill. (FOX 32 News) - A suburban Chicago man is scheduled to appear in court this week after authorities came to his house and took the alligator he kept there for 26 years into custody.
Charles Price was charged with a misdemeanor charge of unlawful possession of an endangered species after the Illinois Department of Natural Resources removed the 200-pound alligator from his home earlier this month.
“I took very good care of him...he was never mistreated,” Price said.
‘Al’ the alligator was kept in Price’s basement in a cage, and is a beloved pet.
Now, Price is outraged that he was denied an opportunity to legally register ‘Al’ with the state.
“You didn't have to do it today…you knew that I had him. Give me a chance to get permits and see what I can do to keep him,” Price said.
Price says he worked hard to make ‘Al’ feel like a member of the family.
“He wasn't in the pen all the time,” Price said.
FOX 32: So you would be on the other end of this leash?
“Yeah, I'd have it right there,” Price said.
Price even bathed ‘Al’ by hand in his basement tub.
A longtime next-door neighbor says he first learned about ‘Al’ years ago, and was never worried for his safety.
“I know his brothers and sisters, they got little kids, Chuck would never endanger anybody with an animal like that,” said Wayne Douma.
Price blames a nosey repair man who discovered ‘Al’ in his basement enclosure for calling police.
FOX 32: So you had this covered?
“Yeah it was all covered up...and the lights were off and what he did was, he peeked underneath here and took pictures of him,” Price said.
The state of Illinois bans the ownership of exotic animals without a permit, and price is now facing misdemeanor charges. But he's more concerned about trying to get ‘Al’ back home.
“I know I'm going to have to pay a fine and I'll pay it, but I just want to get him back...I mean having him for 26 years is a long time,” Price said.
So now, the question that Price is asking is where's Al? And FOX 32 is asking that question as well. We reached out to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and they have not returned our phone calls.