Man claims pet alligator 'is being held hostage' after she was taken during Michigan police chase

When Lake County Sheriff's deputies tried to stop Joshua Applebaum for speeding earlier this month, they said he fled before crashing.

Deputies said Applebaum, 40, from Oak Park, had an alligator in his car, and the animal was handed over to Cicchelli Second Chance Rescue and Exotics.

"I was trying to protect what was mine, essentially the most precious thing in my life. I panicked," he said.

Now, Applebaum claims his 4-foot-long gator named Karen is being held hostage by the rescue.

"She sleeps right with me like a puppy dog," he said. "My ex-girlfriend didn’t like her, and she said, ‘Why don’t you name her Karen, nobody likes a Karen.’"

He said he's been posting videos of Karen on TikTok, and he has racked up 300,000 followers as he tries to get her back.

"I do not have Karen in my custody. She is being held hostage at this point," he said.

However, April Cicchelli, who runs the rescue, said Applebaum cannot provide the care Karen needs.

"I have no care in the world that she is TikTok famous," she said. "She is in our large gator exhibit she is with three other alligators."

Cicchelli said Applebaum showed up at her northern Michigan farm unannounced demanding Karen.

"He started showing aggressive behavior, disrespectful behavior to us and our facility," she said. "We are not willing to mistakenly put one of our alligators in a homeless situation, running from police, living in a car."

Applebaum and Cicchelli said they are both willing to take the issue to civil court.