An alligator was discovered bludgeoned and mutilated Wednesday in a retention pond near a shopping center in the ChampionsGate development in Osceola County's Four Corners neighborhood.
The tail was missing from the gator's body, which was discovered floating belly-up along the pond's shore near ChampionsGate and Legends boulevards.
Madison DiPilato, who works at a business in the shopping center, told Channel 9 she and a friend discovered the animal's mutilated body while going outside to observe him.
"It was, honestly, traumatizing," she said. "It was terrifying to see it like that. To know that somebody did that to an animal that was totally innocent and totally healthy."
DiPilato said she would often walk behind the shopping center to watch the gator, which she nicknamed Pinecone because it would swim toward a pine cone whenever she tossed one into the water.
"He was a character, honestly. He was a sweet alligator, for sure," she said. "It was just living a good life there until somebody pulled him out and killed him."
DiPilato said it's important people don't feed wild gators.
"Not only is it dangerous to the human; obviously, it can be dangerous for the alligator, because now you see what happened to this one." she said. "He was probably a little bit too comfortable with that person coming near him."
The gator's body was still at the pond Friday evening.
Channel 9 has asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission if the agency is investigating the animal's death, but it hasn't yet heard back.
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