Alligator found guarding marijuana plants worth $1.5M in Hemet

HEMET, Calif.

A 4-foot-long, 55-pound American alligator was found in a bathing pool, guarding the more than 2,200 marijuana plants -- worth more than $1.5 million.

"If he were to bit somebody, yeah, he could do quite a bit of damage," said Joel Almquist, owner of Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Phelan, Calif.

That may be why the owner, John Nathan Donna, allegedly thought it would be a good idea to keep the pet gator as a sort of watchdog over his crop. The 29-year-old was arrested and charged for cultivation of marijuana and possession, both felonies. He was released Tuesday on $100,000 bail.

Almquist was called in to capture and remove the animal named Wally.

"This one here is absolutely beautiful. He's probably a little too well taken care of. He's absolutely perfect in every way and real mellow," he said of the alligator, which is believed to be about 5 or 6 years old.

It is illegal to own an alligator in California.

"One illegal activity kind of brings on more illegal activity. I've gotten several calls from sheriff's departments, police departments, what not, where there have been cobras in the houses, exotic cats in the houses," recalled Almquist.

Wally will be in the company of 16 other rescued gators. Almquist said keeping in line with the animal's claim to fame, Wally may be given a new name -- Marley for the famous reggae singer Bob Marley.

The alligator will now call Forever Wild is new home. The sanctuary is better known for its stock of exotic and wild cats.

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