Two alligators were removed from a home in York region on Wednesday, the OSPCA said.
According to an Scott Sylvia, an inspector with the OSPCA investigations centre, the organization received an email containing a video, shot about two weeks ago, that showed two alligators at an unknown location.
Eventually, they received a call from a resident of Stouffville, Ont., who was trying to find a new home for two juvenile American alligators — known formally as Alligator mississippiensis, a species native to the southeastern U.S. — because they could no longer care for the animals.
Sylvia said the individual had only recently agreed to care for the alligators. Municipal bylaws in York do not permit alligators to be kept as domestic pets. The OSPCA said they decided to help the owner because they were “trying to do the right thing” by getting rid of the pair of exotic reptiles.
According to Sylvia, the alligators were being kept as family pets in a backyard shed with a dead bolt lock, but appeared to "be in good shape" when inspectors arrived to the scene.
"Certainly it wasn’t ideal conditions — inside a residential area — but for the most part the animals were being cared for."
The alligators have been taken to Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo and Nature Centre in Hamilton, where they will remain temporarily until a suitable facility is found.
Sylvia says officials are considering several options, including relocating the alligators back to their "natural habitat" or to a zoo outside of Canada.
The OSPCA said no charges will be laid, and they are not revealing the previous owner’s address or other details at this time since the person decided to call for assistance, they told CBC News.
"In this case, it was a responsible choice by the individual," said Sylvia.
American alligators can grow up to four and half metres and to 450 kilograms in the wild. The species inhabits marshes and swamps from south Texas to the coastal regions of North Carolina.
Sylvia said that residents should always check municipal bylaws before obtaining exotic animals.