Alligator on a leash surprises park-goers in Philly. It was Wally, the emotional support gator. – USA TODAY

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You’ve probably heard about some unusual emotional support animals including a peacock and a squirrel. But what about an alligator?
Some folks in Philadelphia’s LOVE Park got to see a leashed alligator up close and personal on Friday when Wally the Alligator made an appearance.
Wally’s handler and owner Joie Henney, who lives nearby in the York, Pennsylvania area, said he brought Wally to LOVE Park for a meet and greet with the public – likely part of Wally’s campaign to win America’s Favorite Pet Animal Kingdom prize.
Wally has previously received media coverage for being an emotional support animal that has comforted people at senior centers and minor-league baseball games.
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Wally certainly turned some heads as he romped through the downtown Philadelphia park, even soaking in some splashing water from the park’s fountains.
“We were just walking by LOVE Park and saw this kid playing with an alligator in the fountain,” Britt Miller told the Philly Voice news site. She also documented Wally’s visit on Twitter. “Of course, there was a ton of people around taking pictures. The girl (who had the alligator) seemed to be with her family, who were sitting off to the side. They were super friendly. People were picking up the alligator, petting it, all sorts of stuff.”
Henney took in the rescued gator about seven years ago when it was just over a year old, he said in a 2019 story in the York Daily Record, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.
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Wally likes back rubs and gives hugs and has been an emotional support animal for Henney and for others, as detailed in a 2019 Associated Press story.
His adventures are chronicled on Facebook and TikTok, where he has more than 69,000 followers and a video of Wally swimming has racked up 7.2 million views.
If you want to vote for Wally, you have until Sept. 1, when 20 will advance. You can vote for free or cast additional votes by donating to the Progressive Animal Welfare Society. The winner gets $10,000 and a two-page spread in InTouch Magazine.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.


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