Brothers Robbie and Stephen Keszey, who starred in the 2011 reality TV show “Swamp Brothers” on the Discovery Channel, are begging fans to keep an eye out for a rare white alligator they believe was stolen during a suspected arson attack on their Florida reptile sanctuary.
Sumter County Fire Rescue responded to reports of a fire at Animal Crossings of Florida, Inc., in Bushnell Friday evening.
“I tried to grab the door and it was so hot, I singed my hand. I let go and the flames were shooting out of the metal on the side,” Robbie told Fox 35. “All I could think was, ‘Oh my God, all my animals!'”
After the fire was contained, officials searched the building and discovered a “total loss.”
A Leucistic alligator named Snowball was missing and 43 other reptiles — both alligators and crocodiles — were found dead.
“The State Fire Marshal’s Office was contacted and is investigating the cause of the fire which at this time appears to be arson,” the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office said in an online statement Monday. “Based on items observed at the scene, it appears that the building was burglarized first and then set on fire after the theft of the rare alligator.”
Robbie and Stephen shared the police department’s post on social media Monday, asking their 42,000 followers to “help [them] find Snowball.”
The post has been shared by more than 1,540 people as of Tuesday evening. Dozens of locals commented on the post to offer their condolences.
“That’s terrible… sorry to hear this,” one Facebook user wrote.
“Why would someone do this! People like this truly disgust me,” another added.
“This crushes my heart, so saddened by this! Prayers they find Snowball and the bad guys,” one woman said.
Leucistic alligators are incredibly rare. According to Gatorland in Orlando, there are only 12 “known to exist in the world today.”
Anyone with information about the case — or with knowledge of the reptile’s whereabouts — are asked to call Sumter County Sheriff’s Detective Chris Merritt at 352-793-2621 or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.