COLUMBIA — Tina Gruer sat down with her alligator, Bootsie, 6, outside the International Cafe on Ninth Street. Everything seemed casual to the occasional passerby who noticed Gruer holding Bootsie in her arms.
Gruer, who lives in Callaway County, has brought Bootsie to Columbia twice. This time it was to show her friend who had bought a baby alligator.
“I will never give her away, ever,” Gruer said.
Bootsie can no longer grow to the typical size of an American alligator because of improper care by her previous owner, Gruer said.
Gruer has a heated enclosure for Bootsie that is 10 feet by 12 feet in length. According to Gruer, Missouri law only requires licensing for reptiles that are more than 6 feet long.