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Missing alligator found in New Lebanon

Contributed photoKobe the alligator was found in a neighbor's yard Sunday after he went missing from his home on Cemetery Road in New Lebanon on May 25.
June 3, 2019 10:01 pm

Columbia-Greene Media

NEW LEBANON — A six-foot-long alligator initially reported missing from a Cemetery Road home was found safe in a neighbor’s backyard Sunday, police said.

The six-foot-long alligator named Kobe who went missing more than a week ago was located on a neighbor’s property, according to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department.

“The owner responded to the location and safely collected it,” according to the sheriff’s office.

The alligator, which has scars on its face and the tip of its tail, was reported missing Friday after a burglary was reported to have happened on the owner’s property on May 25.

No charges have been filed in the case.

Although the alligator was found nearby, the sheriff’s office is continuing to investigate whether a burglary took place, Lt. Wayne Lopez said Monday.

Rhonda Leavitt, owner of Rhonda’s Reptiles, posted a $2,000 reward for Kobe’s return on May 25.

Leavitt declined Monday to discuss the details of what happened, and in Facebook posts on Rhonda’s Reptiles page, Leavitt wrote, “Thank you everyone for your prayers and putting the word out to get Kobe home. He is safe, and although everyone has a million questions, I am not at liberty to discuss the details of his return. Thank you all again.”

Leavitt has a New York state license to own the alligator for educational purposes. Rhonda’s Reptiles exhibits the animals for events at schools and birthday parties as a hands-on learning experience.

Kobe came from a hatchery in Florida when he was still in the egg and Leavitt has raised him since he was a baby, she said.

The American alligator is found in the United States from North Carolina to the Rio Grande in Texas. Alligators are usually found in freshwater, slow-moving rivers. They also live in swamps, marshes and lakes. American alligators can live as long as 30 to 50 years, according to the Smithsonian.

This is not the first time Kobe has wandered away from home. The alligator was reported missing in 2015. While initial reports stated the alligator was missing, Leavitt said Kobe may have been stolen. A reward, which reached $850, was offered for his return. Kobe was recovered near a creek several days later.

No charges were filed in connection to Kobe’s brief disappearance in 2015.

Anyone with information about Kobe’s recent disappearance can contact the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office at 518-828-3344.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.