(WHTM) – On Tuesday night, Wally the emotional support alligator was allowed into the Wells Fargo Center for a Philadelphia Flyers game.
Photos of Wally at the Wells Fargo Center appeared across social media as the Flyers hosted the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night.
The Flyers mascot, Gritty, a social media star of his own, posed with Wally and shared pictures on X. Additional photos were shared by his person, Joseph Henney.
Wally was supposed to attend a Philadelphia Phillies game and meet the players earlier this year, but an accident caused them to miss the meet and greet. Because Wally is an emotional support gator and not a service animal, he wasn’t allowed into the Phillies game.
Wally lives in Lebanon County with his person, Joseph, and has become a global celebrity in recent years. He’s believed to be the world’s only emotional support alligator, was a finalist in the America’s Favorite Pet competition, and even inspired Alligator Loki in the Marvel franchise.
But his role as an emotional support alligator goes beyond being a celebrity.
“He helps needy people,” said Henney. “He puts smiles on people’s faces.”
Henney was united with Wally after Henney lost three family members and four lifelong friends. Henney felt a connection with Wally, saying he “followed him like a puppy.”
“He was just doing things I had never seen alligators do,” said Henney, who knows what alligators do, because he runs a reptile rescue organization. Rescued gators can’t be safely returned to the wild; other gators he has rescued have gone to zoos or wildlife refuge parks. “If I’d lay there and fall asleep, he’d cuddle up beside me, put his head on my shoulder, his arm around me, which I really thought was extremely weird.”
“Wally is the first in all history,” Henney said — even the other gators born with and raised alongside Wally turned out like typical alligators. “And I feel honored with that. But I don’t push that. Do alligators make good pets? Not really.”