PONCHATOULA, La. (BRPROUD) – “Our beloved Hardhide is saved!” These were the words of the alligator’s owner, Mike Kleibert. A resolution was reached days after the animal’s situation drew the attention of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and PETA.
Kleibert detailed the resolution in a post on social media that expressed gratitude to everyone who played a part in the process, special thanks went to local citizens, the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Department and Mayor Bob Zabbia.
Kleibert said “We couldn’t do this without everyone’s voice and unity pulling together.” He highlighted the efforts of both Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and local veterinarian Dr. Bill Wheat in coming up with a plan for Hardhide’s future.
Wheat and another vet, Dr. Michele Stafford, will perform a check on Hardhide. At some point after the evaluation process is complete, Hardhide will be taken out of the enclosure.
The plan is for Hardhide to “be retired into her native habitat formerly owned by my Grandpa, Harvey Kliebert, that is no longer open to the public,” according to Kleibert.
Kleibert said he will take part in the alligator’s evaluation and catch and release.
The animal’s owner said, “Wildlife and Fisheries has promised and guaranteed the safety and survival of our old Hardhide, which is our goal through this process.”
When asked what this resolution meant to him, Kleibert said, “This has restored my faith in humanity.”
Kleibert said he hopes to find a way to create a new exhibit with the help of Zabbia, LDWF and Wheat.