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Warrants issued for Audubon alligator theft

New Orleans police have issued arrest warrants for two men suspected of stealing a bin of baby alligators from the Audubon Zoo gift shop.

Police say Audubon Security discovered the gift shop’s doors pried open, and a broken window near the shop’s bottom door latch, around 7:30 a.m. last Wednesday, just over three hours after receiving an alarm from the location. A check of the shop revealed 10 baby alligators missing from a tank within.

The next day, Sixth District officers responded to the corner of Soraparu and Rousseau Streets in the Lower Garden District and found a plastic storage bin containing eight alligators, later identified by zoo personnel as the same alligators taken the day before. A witness to the alligator drop-off provided officers with a description of the vehicle and men involved. The witness said she moved the alligators out of her front yard and into the street before calling the police.

That same evening, deputies with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office performed a traffic stop of a stolen vehicle, and discovered a baby alligator while arresting the men in the car. New Orleans Police spokesman Frank Robertson told the Associated Press the deputies released the alligator into a nearby canal. However, the car, men and alligator were identified by the witness, leading to the new warrants.

The men, 29-year-old Rodney Thornton and 20-year-old Kawayne Powell, are to be charged with possession of stolen property.

One alligator has yet to be accounted for.

Jason Saul served as WWNO's Director of Digital Services. In 2017 he took a position at BirdNote, in Seattle.

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