Judge: 'Alligator Man' can have his gators back

A Boone County judge ruled Friday afternoon that a half-dozen alligators can be returned to the "Alligator Man."

Associate Circuit Judge Deborah Daniels said Kenneth Henderson, who refers to himself as the "Aligator Man", can have custody of the reptiles as long as he keeps them in a facility designed for the care of exotic animals.

"I'm thrilled that the alligators are coming back to us. Because one has already been killed. I'm very concerned of the shape all my alligators are in., Alligator Tamer Ken Henderson said. I have always tried to keep my animals healthy, that has always been my number one goal."

Judge Daniels asked Henderson to arrange with Animal Control to have the animals transported to an exotic animal farm in Jackson County, MO.

A hearing is set for 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, August 3rd to confirm Mr. Henderson has met the conditions for the animals' release.

In June, Animal Control officers seized seven of Henderson's alligators at the Boone County Fairgrounds after reports of an alligator being near children at a home on Mikel Street in Columbia.

Henderson said none of his alligators are violent. They're all very tame.

"The alligators that I raised for the past ten years are tamer than a lot of people walking on this earth. Just take a look at St. Louis or any big city, people are killing each other almost every night, Henderson said. Alligators aren't killing anybody."

Henderson said he was heartbroken when Animal Control informed him during a court proceeding on Tuesday that one his smaller alligator was attacked and killed by two of the larger alligators while in its custody.

A trial is set for September 16th for Henderson to face charges of animal abuse and neglect and failing to register the animals.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Ryan Haigh told the court that releasing the animals to Henderson would put the public at risk.

Henderson has told the court that his alligators, some with names like "Babes" and "Snuggles", are tame and that the organization the owns the reptiles is exempted from having to register them with law enforcement.

While he does not live in mid-Missouri, Henderson visited the Boone County Fair in 2010 and planned to be at the fair again this week.