Pot-Guarding Gator Dies in Zoo

"Mr. Teeth," a five-foot long caiman, was strategically placed in front of a 34-pound stash of marijuana in a suburban home

By Lori Preuitt
|  Thursday, Jan 10, 2013  |  Updated 11:03 AM PDT
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Alameda County Sheriff's Department

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Alligator Used to Guard Bay Area Pot

The Alameda County Sheriff's Department needed Fish and Game backup this week during a probation check in Castro Valley. The reason? A live 5-foot alligator was found during a routine probation check. Stephanie Chuang reports.

Raw Video: Investigators Run Down Alligator Caper

JD Nelson explains how a check on a man on probation ended with the capture of a five foot alligator.
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There is a sad update to a pot bust that included a five foot alligator-like creature who was used to guard the drugs.

Veterinarians at the Oakland Zoo report that the animal, whose name was "Mr. Teeth," died overnight.

Dr. Karen Emanuelson with the zoo said it was actually a dwarf caiman and when it came to the zoo it was critically ill and non-responsive.

Veterinary staff said they examined it, took blood samples, and determined his prognosis was poor.

Emanuelson confirmed Thursday that the animal expired sometime in the night.

The caiman came to public attention after deputies conducting a routine probation check at a suburban home found him in a Plexiglas tank in one of the bedrooms, strategically placed in front of a 34-pound stash of dried processed marijuana.

“Instead of a guard dog you had a guard alligator,” said Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. J.D. Nelson, whose department found the gator in a house in the Bay Area suburb of Castro Valley.

“When it’s in there it’s a little unnerving to have a live alligator that opens its mouth when you walk in the room so anyone that would come in that room would cert be concerned as the deputies were.”

The size of the gator was another surprise.

Nelson said the county’s animal control officers had picked up gators before, but none as big as Mr. Teeth.

Its owner, 32-year-old Assif Mayar, said he got the gator to commemorate the death of rapper Tupac Shakur. Assuming that’s true, Nelson said, that means the animal is about 16 years old.

Mayar, who was on probation for disturbing the peace, was taken to jail, where he was being held Thursday in lieu of $160,000 bail.

When reporters from NBC’s Bay Area station knocked on the door Wednesday night, the lights were on and dogs were barking, but no one answered.

But the neighbors seemed none too pleased to learn that the giant reptile had been living next door.

“It doesn’t belong in a neighborhood with little kids and there are lots of little kids,” said one neighbor, who asked not to be identified. “There’s a school about a block away and if the thing got out, that could be really dangerous.”

Caimans are generally from South and Central America and require a lot of care.

They need a heat source, large pond with extra space, and fresh meat bi-weekly.


 

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