Van Hai Tang, 40, of Gainesville, Ga., has been charged with theft by taking in the theft of Nubs the alligator from the Flint RiverQuarium Thursday afternoon. (Special photo)
ALBANY — A 40-year-old homeless man has been arrested for the theft of an alligator from the Flint RiverQuarium on Thursday afternoon.
Van Hai Tang, of Gainesville, Ga., was charged with taking the 3-foot alligator, which aquarium workers recovered about an hour later.
Tang, listed on the report as unemployed and homeless, has been charged with theft by taking and was being held Friday in the Dougherty County jail with a $2,000 bond set.
RiverQuarium CEO Tommy Gregors said Friday that the incident has prompted a review if the facility’s security.
“We are still reviewing security footage, but right now we are also looking at cameras and our sensors,” Gregors said Friday. “We are also wary of people who come into the building and want to get closer to the animals. “
RiverQuarium board member Emily Jean McAfee, who was a attending an event at the RiverQuarium at the time of the incident, confirmed the gator-napping Thursday night.
“I was in the building at the time, and yes, we had a little excitement,” McAfee said Thursday evening. “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, named “Nubs,” across his shoulders. 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.
Since Nubs, who was unharmed during his adventure, was exposed to the Flint River, he is being held in quarantine for the next 30 days. That is the same procedure that is used before a new animal is introduced to the facility.