NEW LEBANON, N.Y. - The search is on for a three-foot, gray-and-white scaled pet American alligator that escaped from a home on Cemetery Road on Thursday, according to New York State Police.
Kobe, a 39-inch, 15 lb. alligator got out of its cage and was last seen Thursday around 3 p.m. Owner Rhonda Leavitt, who runs a reptile sanctuary and showcases some animals in public, said she relocated Kobe to a different cage so she could clean its regular one. Then, it slipped out through a sliver of space in between the wire door and metal cage post and hasn't been seen since.
Leavitt is concerned that if the alligator wasn't found by Friday night, it might perish.
"He can withstand a night in the 40s, but he can't withstand multiple nights of cold temperature," said Leavitt.
She said the alligator typically sleeps in a pool of water that protects it from cool temperatures.
Leavitt bought the alligator four years ago as a "hatchling," and she said it was "devastating" to lose the animal. Leavitt says friends have helped her search her property, neighboring woods, and local waterways, but she'd appreciate additional volunteer help. The alligator is distinguishable by its gray-and-white scaled back. It has a hole in its right back webbed-foot and a clipped tail, a result of being bitten as a baby alligator.
She spent the afternoon and evening Thursday searching for the alligator and several more hours on Friday, while fielding questions from multiple media sources.
"I love all my animals and to have any missing is devastating," Leavitt said.
Authorities say the alligator might have found water to lounge in or a place to sun itself. Either way, the public is warned against approaching it.
"He should be out sunning" during the day, Leavitt said.
The New York state Department of Environmental Conservation, the town's animal control officer and state police are currently searching for the animal.
Anyone who might have seen the alligator or wishes to volunteer in the search is being asked to call Leavitt at (413) 446-1059.
New Lebanon is located west of Hancock, Mass., on the border with Massachusetts.