The man who Valparaiso Police encouraged children to pet a Zao Island
alligator last summer—in an incident which resulted in a young boy’s being
bitten by the gator—is a Chesterton resident.
On May 24, Anthony R. Rodriguez, 24, of 115 A. S. 18th St., was charged with
criminal recklessness, a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a term of up to
six months in jail.
According to the original VPD report, at 6:45 p.m. July 15, Zao Island
management reported that an unknown male subject had fashioned a noose from
a pole and string—used to feed the alligators in the exhibit at the Zao
Island amusement park—removed a gator from the exhibit, and then “invited
nearby children to come pet the alligator.”
One 7-year-old boy did and the alligator bit him on the right index finger,
“The male subject who removed the alligator then put the alligator back in
the exhibit and left the area with a female subject,” police said. That
subject the VPD subsequently identified as Rodriguez.
EMS personnel were dispatched to the scene and treated the boy, whose mother
advised police that she assumed Rodriguez “was an employee” and so allowed
her son to pet the alligator.