Baseball fan denied entry to game with ‘emotional support alligator'

29 September 2023, 10:22

Wally's owner claims the two were there to meet players.
Wally's owner claims the two were there to meet players. Picture: Alamy, social media
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

A baseball fan attempted to bring his emotional support alligator to meet baseball players but was turned away.

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Alligator Wally and his owner, Joie Henney, arrived at baseball stadium Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia to meet players taking part in the Phillies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates match on Wednesday.

Sports journalist Howard Eskin saw the alligator outside the park and posted a photo on Twitter.

He tweeted: "Are you kidding me? A #Phillies fan tried to come into the game tonight with what they said was a 'service animal.' An Alligator! Yes, an Alligator. Things I've never seen. This is it."

The gator has garnered online fame, with tens of thousands of followers on Instagram and TikTok.

Social media posts often show Wally - short for Wallygator - happily being cuddled and kissed.

Speaking to Sky News, Wally's owner said they had not gone to watch the game but to meet the players - but they were too late as the teams were warming up.

"It was no big deal," according to Mr. Henney and went home.

"They're going to get a hold of us before they go to their next game," he added.

"Soon players will get to meet him."

Wally has gained a strong online following and is often seen getting hugged and kissed.
Wally has gained a strong online following and is often seen getting hugged and kissed. Picture: Social media

He told CNN of Wally's unusually gentle demeanour.

Mr Henney said: "Wally has been quite different from any alligator... he doesn't show anger.

"He doesn't show aggression. He hasn't since the day he was caught. We could never understand why."

Wally was taken in by Mr. Henney seven years ago, who has worked as a reptile rescuer.

Since then, Wally has helped his owner through depression, making him an emotional support animal, according to Mr. Henney.

Mr Hennny said he and Wally will return another time to meet the players.
Mr Hennny said he and Wally will return another time to meet the players. Picture: Alamy

In August 2022, Mr. Henney told The Washington Post that he hugs his pet often and even shares the same bed.

Philadelphia allows the ownership of alligators, though bringing them to Citizens Bank Park is prohibited.

Guidelines say: "Guide dogs, service animals, or service animals in training are welcome. All other animals are prohibited."

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