Man claims famous TikTok alligator is ‘being held hostage’ after police chase

A man is claiming that his TikTok famous pet alligator is being "held hostage" after it was taken in by police.

Joshua Applebaum, 40, was involved in a high-speed pursuit before crashing his car when police tried to stop him for speeding earlier this month.

When deputies from the Lake County Sheriff's Department in Florida, US, nicked Applebaum they were shocked to find an alligator in the vehicle.

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"The passenger, 'Karen' the alligator, attempted to flee the scene but was taken into custody after a short scuffle," the department said on Facebook.

"Karen is not facing any charges at this time."

Karen was later handed over to Cicchelli Second Chance Rescue and Exotics – but now Applebaum wants the four-foot reptile back.

He told FOX 2: "I was trying to protect what was mine, essentially the most precious thing in my life. I panicked."

He said that he made bail a few days after his arrest and immediately started trying to get Karen back. The rescue is refusing to hand her over.

"I do not have Karen in my custody. She's being held hostage at this point," Applebaum continued.

Applebaum uploads videos of Karen to TikTok, where she has amassed nearly 300,000 followers across two accounts.

He said: "She sleeps right with me like a puppy dog. My ex-girlfriend didn’t like her, and she said, ‘Why don’t you name her Karen, nobody likes a Karen'."

However, rescue boss April Cicchelli claims he can't take care of her needs and is refusing to hand her over.

She said: "I have no care in the world that she is TikTok famous.

"He started showing aggressive behaviour, disrespectful behaviour to us and our facility.

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"We are not willing to mistakenly put one of our alligators in a homeless situation, running from police, living in a car."

Cicchelli claims Applebaum turned up to her facility and demanded the alligator back.

Both are reportedly willing to take the dispute to civil court.


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