Rancho Santa Fe Pond Turns Up Toothy Creature 2009: Eightyearold Christopher

Rancho Santa Fe pond turns up toothy creature

Eight-year-old Christopher Burdick was looking for frogs in a private pond in Rancho Santa Fe when he realized he had competition.
A creature popped up with a long snout that looked more like something from Florida’s Everglades. What was an alligator doing in a San Diego County pond, much less one where children go fishing, frogging and swimming Its origin remains a mystery, but the alligator’s fate isn’t. Christopher’s mom, Diana Burdick, was reading nearby and went to check out her son’s story. Sure enough, he was right. Admittedly, it was a small creature — only about 18 inches from grinning snout to tip of spiny tail. But it was long enough to merit concern considering its dental attributes — 60 to 80 teeth — and residence in a Rancho Santa Fe Association-owned 78-acre property used by members for recreation. A few minutes “and a lot of screaming and thrashing later,” Matthew had bagged his first American alligator, now nicknamed Wally. Burdick soon learned that their adventure had just begun. She called several wildlife rescue services and the state Fish and Game Department. All cautioned her that it was illegal to keep an alligator without a permit, but she could be fined heavily if she let it loose and, no, no one wanted to come get it.
In desperation, Burdick contacted Ben Hian of Radical Reptiles, who had nurtured her son’s love of creepy crawlies through his educational birthday party visits. Hian informed her that he doesn’t keep alligators, but he knew who did.

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