A Phillies fan has been denied entry to Citizens Bank Park after bringing his emotional support alligator Wally.
Joie Henney tried to take the reptile, which helps him battle depression and cancer, to the baseball game on Wednesday evening.
But the beast wasn’t allowed inside to watch the Phillies pull off a nail-biting playoff victory over the Pirates.
Joie Henney tried to get Wally, a companion who helped him battle depression and cancer, into the Phillies game last night
Wally and his owner Henney were denied entry because alligators are not among the animals welcome at the Phillies Games
The alligator caused a predictable frenzy on social media with users asking the Phillies to let Wally in
‘Guide dogs, service animals or service animals in training are welcome. All other animals are prohibited,” according to the Phillies website.
Alligators don’t fall into any of these categories and could only watch the Phillies play the Pirates from home.
Henney – a longtime reptile rescuer who has worked with alligators for 30 years – received his rescue pet alligator Wally from Florida in 2015.
He runs several social media accounts that document the life of his beloved alligator.
Although Wally was denied entry to the game, hugs were distributed to Phillies fans outside the stadium. Wally caused quite a stir on social media.
“@Phillies give this man a chance, this is the most Philly thing I’ve ever seen,” someone wrote on X, formerly Twitter. ‘Not Wallie!! Come on Phillies,” another wrote.
Phillies fans were amazed by Wally on Wednesday and gave him a pat on the back
Wally was seen handing out hugs to Phillies fans outside the stadium, although he was denied entry to the game
Henney said Wally is kind and gentle and loves to give hugs.
Wally came into Henney’s life seven years ago as a baby alligator when he was removed from a Florida lagoon due to an overabundance of alligators.
“There was an abundance of alligators in that area,” Henney said, going on to explain that in Florida, so-called “nuisance alligators” must be euthanized or transferred into captivity. The two have been inseparable ever since.
“Wally has been very different than any alligator I have dealt with in the last 30 years,” Henney told CNN.
‘He shows no anger. He shows no aggression. He hasn’t done that since the day he was caught. We could never understand why.
‘He’s just sweet. He sleeps with me, steals my pillows, steals my blankets. He’s just great.’
Henney registered his alligator, Wally, as an emotional support pet in December 2018. Henney compares Wally to a dog and says the alligator just wants to be “loved and petted.”
Wally was just over a year old when he arrived at Henney’s home in 2015
In 2019, Henney was able to get Wally licensed as an emotional support animal. The alligator has brought him comfort as he has undergone radiation treatment for cancer.
“I had a really bad depression and he got me out of it,” Henney said of Wally in an earlier interview. “My doctor wanted to give me medication for depression, but I refused to take it.” So instead, Wally has been Henney’s medicine.
Henney claims that alligators are easier to train than dogs, and he isn’t concerned about the possibility of Wally biting someone.
“Wally is the only alligator I’ve ever been around that refuses to bite,” he said. “It’s mind-boggling, just hard to believe.”
Although emotional support pets may not receive special privileges under federal law, Wally is allowed to go almost anywhere with Henney, with the exception of a number of restaurants that have rejected Wally’s presence, ostensibly out of fear that the alligator could carry salmonella.
Joie Henney, a Philadelphia man and reptile rescuer who has worked with alligators for 30 years, was walking his alligator Wally in Philadelphia’s Love Park last year.
Wally the Alligator was leashed by a young girl in Love Park in Philadelphia
The two were spotted at Love Park in Philadelphia last year when bystanders were shocked to see Wally the alligator up close.
Wally was being walked on a leash by a young girl and seemed to be trying to beat the heat under the refreshing spray of the fountain.
Wally’s appearance surprised not only bystanders, but also social media users who later saw the video on WallyGator’s. TikTok which has been viewed more than 122,000 times.
Most people were in awe of the reptile, while others doubted the safety of the animal walking through the park.
Wally is happy to be held like a traditional pet. Henney said Wally never bit him or tried to bite anyone else
Henney takes Wally to schools and senior centers for educational reasons. Wally is seen here at the SpiriTrust Lutheran Village in Pennsylvania on January 14, 2019
Henney said he originally wanted to see if he could register Wally as a service animal after discovering his calming effect on people with developmental issues, but decided to register him as an emotional support animal.
Wildlife experts have pushed for new laws banning alligators as pets because they are often abandoned when they grow too large for their owners to care for.
Henney has previously said that during his educational alligator presentations, he made sure to emphasize that alligators do not make good pets because they are still wild animals.
But he adds that he hopes Wally’s story can help people “be nice to other people” and hopes he can “put a smile on people’s faces – this world is rough enough as it is.”