The Florida man who is fighting to keep the pet alligator he has had for 47 years has made the striking statement that he allows his 8-year-old twin daughters to feed the reptile.
David Van Buren, a retired firefighter living in Coconut Grove, says the girls can dish out Gwendolyn's highly unorthodox diet, but can never be alone when they do so.
Kai and Casey Van Buren told Inside Edition: “We like to feed him cookies and pizza.”
The 13-foot gator lives in a walled-in pond in Van Buren’s backyard. Barbed wire sits atop an 8-foot-fence to keep Gwendolyn from getting out.
Van Buren’s neighbors are not pleased with having the gator so close to them, especially after the death of 2-year-old Lane Graves at a Disney resort last month.
But the neighbors are not the only ones who may be looking to evict Gwendolyn, who's been Van Buren's pet for nearly half a century.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) officials believe the gator requires more secure fencing.
"The FWC is currently working with Mr. Van Buren toward a lawful solution regarding the caging and license requirements for the alligator," Robert Klepper, a public information coordinator with the agency, told InsideEdition.com via email.
The FWC, which is reportedly willing to fashion a solution that allows Gwendolyn to stay with Van Buren, said that for the time being, the animal’s current living arrangement would remain unchanged.
Animal expert Jared Miller told Inside Edition having a gator as a pet is a ticking time bomb.
“Having this animal for as long as this individual has does not take the alligator out of the alligator,” he told Inside Edition. "They are still predatory. They are still a large risk."
It’s not the first time Gwendolyn has made headlines. In 1994, the state tried to remove the alligator from Van Buren’s custody in a case that ultimately went all the way to then Gov. Lawton Chiles. A state court eventually ruled the reptile could return home.
Van Buren insists his beloved pet is safe and its current enclosure is secure.