A Florida man who allegedly resisted arrest after being reported for illegally feeding an alligator he named Hank has described the 10-foot reptile as “a good friend” who “loves bagels.”
Paul Fortin, 67, was issued a citation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) over the incident at a Daytona Beach pond in May. Fortin didn’t comply and was arrested by police for refusing to accept the citation and resisting an officer without violence, according to jail records.
“It’s illegal. It’s totally illegal to do it. Did I know it? No. Did I know I couldn’t feed a turtle? Alligators, yeah, I kind of knew that,” Fortin told Orlando station WKMG-TV. “I don’t know, maybe I’m Dr. Doolittle.”
Fortin, who says he is a disabled veteran, was caught after a neighbor alerted FWC officials to a video purportedly showing the 67-year-old feeding and petting the alligator, according to the station.
“He just sits there and he loves bagels,” Fortin said.
The FWC warns to never feed an alligator and to “keep your distance if you see one.” Feeding wildlife can lead to dangerous interactions with humans in the future.