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Man steals alligator from Flint RiverQuarium

RiverQuarium personnel recover gator from the Flint River

ALBANY — A 40-year-old homeless man has been arrested for stealing an alligator from the Flint RiverQuarium on Thursday afternoon.

According to reports, Hai Tang, of Gainesville, Ga., was charged with taking the 3-foot alligator, which aquarium workers recovered.

A report with the Albany Police Department states that Tang has been charged with theft by taking.

RiverQuarium board member Emily Jean McAfee confirmed the gator-napping Thursday night.

“I was in the building at the time, and yes, we had a little excitement,” McAfee said. “But the staff responded professionally and everything turned out OK.”

According to APD reports, an aquarium employee, Richard Brown, called police. The report states that Brown told authorities a man had scaled the wall of the RiverQuarium and was seen in the alligator tank handling the reptiles.

Brown said he was later seen by construction workers at the bridge under construction on Broad Avenue carrying the alligator under his arm. Brown said he was advised that the man had tossed the alligator into the Flint River. Brown told police he and other aquarium employees then went to the river and retrieved the gator.

The report confirmed what sources told The Albany Herald earlier Thursday evening. The source said the man walked down Front Street with the animal tucked under his arm and began to run when RiverQuarium staff began pursuit. The man dumped the gator into the Flint River near the Ray Charles Memorial.

Three to four RiverQuarium employees used poles and nooses to retrieve the animal from the river, and the source said one of the men was bitten by the gator during the retrieval process. The reptile then had its mouth taped shut, a bag placed over its head and was walked back to the RiverQuarium.