Alligator with Mouth Taped Shut Found Alive 11 Days After Disappearing from School Visit

The reptile was brought by a petting zoo without the proper permit, and the circumstances of its disappearance are still being investigated

<p>KC Pet Project</p> The alligator whose mouth was taped when it went missing from a Kansas City school

KC Pet Project

The alligator whose mouth was taped when it went missing from a Kansas City school

An alligator disappeared at a Missouri middle school while its mouth was taped shut. Over a week later, it was found alive — and with its snout still covered.

The reptile was last seen around 11 a.m. on May 23 at Lakeview Middle School, and was located on June 3, according to a Facebook post by the KC Pet Project, the non-profit that runs Kansas City animal shelter KC Campus for Animal Care.

At the time of its disappearance, officials said the reptile was unlikely to survive alone in the wild with its mouth taped shut, local outlet KSHB reported.

Related: Snakes Nearly on a Plane: Reptile Caught Trying to Enter the Dallas Fort Worth Airport

According to another local outlet, KCTV, the 14-inch-long gator was brought to Lakeview by Thorni Ridge Exotics Mobile Petting Zoo.

KC Pet Project said the company did not obtain the proper permit required by city code, and noted that the code also prohibits alligators in the city altogether.

<p>KC Pet Project</p> The search for the missing alligator in Missouri

KC Pet Project

The search for the missing alligator in Missouri

“Any type of event that showcases animals in Kansas City, Missouri, must have the proper permit to ensure the event is safe for all participants as well as the animals,” said Tori Fugate, a spokesperson for the organization, per KSHB.

The petting zoo gator was part of an “exhibit by an external company” and “was brought to the school as part of an end-of-year celebration,” the organization said.

Following its disappearance, KC Pet Project’s Animal Services Division arrived at the school to locate the gator, but the search was ultimately fruitless.

With the help of the Kansas City Fire Department, officers “searched the school and surrounding grounds for the animal at the site of the school for several hours, but were unable to locate the animal,” the non-profit wrote.

Days later, the reptile’s luck turned around when Lakeview custodial staff located it outside the school’s backdoor, according to an email obtained by KCTV.

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<p>KC Pet Project</p> The KC Pet Project located the missing alligator 11 days after it first went missing

KC Pet Project

The KC Pet Project located the missing alligator 11 days after it first went missing

The organization arrived swiftly on the scene to recover the reptile — and get it the help it needed.

“The missing alligator has been located, alive, and was picked up by our Animal Services Division,” KC Pet Project shared in a Facebook post on June 3.

“We received an anonymous tip that it was discovered to be outside of the school, on the first day of summer school,” the organization wrote, noting that “the alligator’s mouth was still taped shut.”

KC Pet Project said it brought the critter to its campus as quickly as possible, where it would be examined by a veterinarian who works with exotic pets.

An investigation into the alligator’s whereabouts for the past week is ongoing, the organization said.

Thorni Ridge Exotics LLC owner Eric Smith told PEOPLE in an emailed statement they are "thrilled" that the alligator was found.

"We are thrilled that Alex has showed back up at the back door of the school. From the pictures, he looks like he was taken care of," Smith wrote. "We are still waiting on the Kansas City Pet project to contact us back. We filed a police report for a stolen alligator a week ago Monday."

"Alex’s enclosure is specifically made so he is not able to climb out or get out of the enclosure," Smith continued. "Someone had to have taken him out of his enclosure. We have done thousands of these events and have never had a single issue like this."

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