Citizens Bank Park policy states that only “guide dogs, service animals, or service animals in training are welcome”
Not everyone — or every animal — can be taken out to the ballgame.
Wally, a viral emotional support alligator, and his owner Joie Henney were denied entrance into Citizens Bank Stadium, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, to watch their game on Wednesday night.
Social media posts on X and Instagram show the reptilian companion donning a red vest and leash that reads “Emotional Support Animal,” along with the creature’s name.
“A #Phillies fan tried to come into game tonight with what they said was a 'service animal.' An Alligator! Yes an Alligator,” talk show host Howard Eskin posted on X. “Things I’ve never seen. This is it."
However, no amount of followers could let this alligator in Citizens Bank Park. The stadium's policy states that only “guide dogs, service animals or service animals in training are welcome” and “all other animals are prohibited,” thus excluding Wally both as an “emotional support animal” and as an alligator.
Despite the reptile and his owner being relegated to stay outside the stadium, other photos on Instagram showed the rejected Wally getting some love hugs from other Phillies fans.
This isn’t the first time Wally made headlines in the city or was spotted making friends. The friendly gator was photographed out and about in Philadelphia’s LOVE Park last year in August.
"We were just walking by LOVE Park and saw this kid playing with an alligator in the fountain," Britt Miller, who documented Wally's visit on X, told the Philly Voice news site. 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 and Wally, who live in the nearby York, Pennsylvania area, initially made headlines in 2019. Henney said at the time that he had taken in the alligator after a friend of his rescued the reptile at 14 months old, according to York Daily Record.
Henney, who is no stranger to taming wild animals having previously been a bull rider, told CBS News that the reptile had helped improve his mood after he had fallen into a deep depression after losing the people closest to him.
"I'll get lonely and stuff like that and he seems to sense that stuff and he'll come up and he'll give me a hug," the alligator owner told the outlet.
He decided to share Wally’s positive effect with others by bringing him to schools and senior homes for educational purposes, and quickly noticed children with developmental issues especially enjoyed Wally’s presence, per York Daily Record.
This observation prompted Henney to seek “emotional support animal” status for Wally, and in December 2018, he was successful.
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But for all of Henney’s belief in the alligator’s calming powers, the owner also stresses during his visits that it’s not usually safe to keep that particular kind of reptile as a pet because they are, at the end of the day, wild animals.
“They aren’t for everyone,” Henney quipped to the Record. “But what can I say? I’m not normal.”
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