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Visitors to Love Park in Philadelphia encountered an alligator

Visitors to Love Park in Philadelphia encountered an alligator

(CNN) — Visitors get up close and personal with an alligator at Love Park in Philadelphia.

But the reptile isn’t just a wild animal: It’s the emotional support animal of a Philadelphia man who has multiple social media accounts documenting his relationship with Wally the Alligator.

Many park visitors, including Wally’s owner Joey Henney, posted pictures and videos of the friendly alligator, greeting visitors and splashing water from the fountain.

Henny told CNN he bought Wally six years ago. Henny, a veteran reptile rescuer who has worked with alligators for 30 years, was contacted by a friend who works in Florida.

“There were a lot of alligators in that area,” Henney said.

In Florida, so-called “nuisance alligators” are euthanized or kept in captivity, he explained.

The walleye were removed from the Florida pond, Henney said. His friend took the baby alligator, which was 20 inches long and over a year old, to Pennsylvania.

Thus began a unique relationship between man and crocodile.

“Wally is very different from all the alligators I’ve dealt with in the last 30 years,” Henney said. “He doesn’t show anger. He doesn’t show aggression. He hasn’t since the day he was caught. We can’t understand why.”

“It’s adorable. It sleeps with me, steals my pillows, steals my sheets. It’s amazing.”

Wally’s easy-going personality led Henny to license the alligator as an emotional support animal, he said. The crocodile has comforted him as he underwent radiation treatment for cancer.

Most people who see Wally are “excited and happy to see him,” Henney says.

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Henney wasn’t worried about the alligator biting someone, he said. I was only with Wally the crocodile who refused to bite. “Amazing…hard to believe.”

Their visit to Love Park came after the couple moved to Philadelphia to film a news segment with close friend Mary Johnson and their children, Henney said. Johnson helps shoot content for Wally’s TikTok and Instagram, and Henney added that his family is “very special to me.”

“They had a great time,” Henny said. “As soon as they hear Wally, people come and hug him and take pictures with him.”

Henny hopes Wally’s story can help inspire people to “be nice to each other.” He is proud that Wally can help “to put a smile on people’s faces, this world is enough.”