Animal control officials removed a massive 8-foot-long alligator named Big Mack from a Philadelphia row house, where it had been confined to the basement for more than a decade.
The Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Team (ACCT) was called to the home after the alligator’s humans divorced and his owner’s ex-wife no longer wanted him in the home.
The couple had the animal since it was a baby and kept it in the locked basement since 2012.
Rescuers had originally planned for Big Mack to be flown to a new home at a Michigan sanctuary, but the 12-year-old reptile was too big for the plane.
ACCT Philadelphia Executive Director Sarah Barnett told Fox News Digital they expected an alligator three feet shorter and about 5 feet long.
“When we got close to the lock, there was a little window in the door, like you see in these prisons in the movies,” Barnett told the outlet. “We all leaned in and said, ‘Oh shit.'”
Big Mack is 8 feet long and weighs 127 pounds.
It took three people to get him out of his basement enclosure and into the animal control truck.
“When we got it out, it was a little nerve-wracking at first,” Barnett said.
She said the alligator was stressed, hissing and squirming, and probably hadn’t been fed in a month.
“We had one person sit in the back just to hold him down, and then I was sitting in the queue while someone else covered my mouth,” Barnett told the publication.
The ACCT Philly team quickly had to come up with a new solution and built a makeshift habitat for Big Mack in the organization’s shelter, complete with an indoor pool and heat lamps.
On Friday, Big Mack was transferred to an alligator holding facility in Pennsylvania, where he took what was likely one of his first swims in years in a joyous moment captured on video.
After self-quarantine in Pennsylvania, Big Mack will head to his permanent home in Florida at the Jupiter Alligator and Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as JAWS.
The sanctuary will be a vast improvement over the small basement where the alligator spent most of his life.
“The great thing about the sanctuary is that they have these amazing pools for the alligators,” Barnett said of JAWS. “They get to live their natural life. It’s not like they’re parading. They’re just turning into natural crocodiles and alligators, which is really amazing.”
Big Mack was the third alligator ACCT Philly has rescued this month alone.