The incident happened at a Walmart in Apopka, Florida, just after midnight. Shoppers noticed the alligator wandering near the front door of the Walmart, though it did’t slow them down in their shopping trips.
“It was a nice size gator, just chilling.” shopper Robin Watkins told CBS affiliate WKMG.
The alligator came so close to the store’s front door that it was repeatedly setting off the sliding doors, officials said.
Employees called the Apopka Police Department and blocked out the area for an hour, but the Walmart remained open while the alligator stood guard near the door.
Police called in a wildlife expert to trap the Walmart alligator, but before the trapper could arrive the reptile had already left and wandered into a nearby forest.
But that is not the end of the story for the alligator. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has located the alligator in a nearby retention pond, and plans to catch it.
It will get worse from there.
“He’ll be put down, unfortunately,” said Karen Parker, a spokeswoman for the FWC. “It looks like he has lost the fear of people, and we don’t want to take the chance of him hurting anybody.”
The Walmart alligator was not the only out-of-place reptile to make an impromptu shopping trip. Last year, two small alligators were found in a supermarket parking lot in Long Island in the course of two days. They were captured and sent to a wildlife sanctuary in Florida.