An alligator swimming.
(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

What Happened to Wally the Emotional Support Alligator? Explained.

Wally the emotional support alligator has gone missing. I wish I were kidding, but I’m afraid that this is the heartbreaking truth.

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Wally is the most highly qualified alligator on the face of the planet for dealing with emotional issues. He was in the possession of Joie Henney, a Pennsylvania native. Henney has claimed that Wally has helped him alleviate his symptoms of depression, and the pair have been together for nearly a decade. Honestly, bless. Alligators are awesome. They aren’t cold blooded killing machines.

Well, they are, but there’s more to them! Crocodilians have been observed doing adorable things, as well, like blowing bubbles and giving each other piggyback rides for no other reason than to goof around. Their silliness has been well documented, and Joie Henney has gotten into the good graces of one of them. Social media pictures show Henney hugging the beautiful beast like a 5-and-half-foot-long teddy bear. It’s precious.

Sadly, Wally—who may coincidentally have a Marvel claim to fame—has gone missing.

This isn’t the first time that Wally has made the news. He and his owner rose to international fame after Wally was denied entry to a baseball game. Henney has said that Wally vanished while the pair were vacationing in Brunswick, Georgia. Henney believes that someone broke into the fenced enclosure where Wally was being kept and stole the gator, dropping Wally off on the porch of a neighbor as some kind of unfunny prank.

The neighbor then called the authorities, and poor Wally was trapped and released into the wild. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources confirmed that an alligator was caught recently, saying in a statement that a professional trapper was called in to deal with a “nuisance alligator” and that the gator was “released in a remote location.” However, officials have stressed that they don’t know if that alligator was Wally or not.

Henney is heartbroken. He took to social media in a tearful TikTok video begging the world to help him “bring [his] baby back.” He has started a GoFundMe in support of his beloved pet, in order to be able to afford a lawyer and give Wally legal protection. “They refuse to tell us where he is and will not allow us to locate him, even saying if Joie finds him and they catch him that they will euthanize him. We have tried begging and pleading for help from the state to no avail,” reads the GoFundMe. “If by the grace of god he makes his way back home a lawyer to make sure he is protected.” I hope that by the grace of God he does.

This isn’t the first time that Wally has disappeared. In 2022, Wally went missing during a fishing trip to the same area of Georgia. Joie regularly leaves Wally in a gated enclosure at a friend’s house when they’re apart while traveling there, but Wally went missing once before despite the precautions. The Georgia Department of National Resources sent a trapper to help Henney find his lost gator, and after leading his owner to a marsh, they found Wally.

It seems that the state of Georgia is not willing to help Henney a second time. According to Georgia law, it’s illegal for citizens to keep alligators as pets unless they are licensed, and the Department of Natural Resources doesn’t provide such licenses for pet alligators. In Henney’s home of Pennsylvania, no such laws exist. According to David Mixon, a wildlife biologist and coastal supervisor for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, such laws are in place for people’s protection.

Mixon claims that alligators, even seemingly docile ones, can pose a risk to anyone who comes in contact with them. “They’re unpredictable, and they’re often reactive to stimulus,” Mixon said. “There’s lots of videos and pictures where people handle gators, and they do it without getting hurt. But the more time you spend around them, the more likely you are to be injured.” He goes so far as to say that when interacting with an alligator, a person should always hold their mouth closed with their hand or with a band.

“He has never tried to bite no one,” said Henney in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. Au contraire, this entire story bit a chunk out of my heart. I hope you find Wally, Mr. Henney. And I hope that day comes soon.


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.