Burglary and fire at the Animal Crossings of Florida animal sanctuary in Bushnell Florida left 43 crocodiles and alligators dead. However, one very rare white alligator was found to be missing and possibly stolen. According to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, the incident is being investigated as a case of burglary, grand theft, arson, and animal cruelty. The animal sanctuary is a non-profit operated by Robbie and Stephen Keszey; the brothers gained fame for their Discovery Channel show “Swamp Brothers.”
After supper, Mr. Keszey’s son went to the building where the alligators and crocodiles were housed, but the boy was turned back by the fire. Mr. Keszey tried to open the door, but the door handle was too hot to even touch. “Fire shot out the side of the building,” Mr.Keszey recalls, “and I fell to my knees crying. I just threw up.”
The missing alligator is a rare 3-year old leucistic alligator. There are only 10 leucistic alligators in the world. A leucistic alligator is similar to an albino alligator, but has blue eyes, making them very rare, and very valuable.
Robbie Keszey stated that a leucistic alligator could be valued at $100,000 or more. However, he believes Snowball could not easily be sold. “Many people all over the world know this alligator,” he said. “Whoever stole it has no way to sell it.”
Mr. Keszey fears the thieves may kill Snowball, or toss him into a lake or river. He pointed out that whoever perpetrated this crime doesn’t care because about animals; they callously killed 43 other alligators and crocodiles, just to get to Snowball. “Snowball was priceless to me,” he added. “He was just like my best friend. We just want him back safely. The police are following every lead they have.”
When asked if they had received any threats or if anyone who wished the brothers or their animals any harm, Mr. Keszey stated, “No. Everyone loved Snowball. Children especially loved Snowball.”
The sanctuary regularly used Snowball to educate people about alligators, and Mr. Keszey especially enjoyed teaching children.“Snowball was very special because he looked different than most alligators,” said Mr. Keszey. “The sanctuary is an educational center. I believe in teaching children conservation with entertainment. By making people laugh, you can make them pay attention.”