Alligator turned away from baseball game was ‘invited by players’ says owner

‘Everybody thinks I just tried to take Wally to the baseball game. Well, that was only part of the truth,’ Joie Henney tells The Independent

Mike Bedigan
Los Angeles
Thursday 28 September 2023 23:52 BST
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An “emotional support alligator” who was turned away from a baseball in Philadelphia was “invited” by the players, its owner has said.

Joie Henney, 70, said he understood why the animal, named Wally, was not allowed into the ground to see the Phillies take on the Pittsburgh Pirates, and that there were “absolutely” no hard feelings over the incident.

Mr Henney told The Independent that he and Wally, who have been to multiple baseball games together previously, were invited by a fan who knew some of the players, who apparently also wished to meet the pair.

US news outlets previously reported that Wally, who has over 25,000 followers on Instagram, had been turned away because he did not meet the requirements of a “service animal” – but Mr Henney said he knew this would be the case.

“Everybody thinks I just tried to take Wally to the baseball game. Well, that was only part of the truth,” he told The Independent.

“He was invited there by one of his fans, who is friends with the baseball team and their wives and we were supposed to meet before they started the game.

“And a couple of the baseball players wanted to meet Wally and that's why we were there.

“Well, we got there after three o’clock so of course they couldn’t come out and we couldn’t go in. There was no upset, there was no arguing – nothing was done wrong.

“Somebody said they only allow service animals. That’s okay. He is not a service animal, he is an emotional support animal and there’s a difference.

“He’s been to ball games before. We didn’t go there for the intention of going to the ballgame. But that’s what we ended up wanting to do. But when they said no, we didn’t do it.”

Video footage circulated on social media showed Mr Henney escorting Wally back to a vehicle and putting him safely into the boot.

Mr Henney said that following the incident he had arranged to go back to the stadium when there was no game on, so that Wally could meet the fan and the players who had originally invited him.

He added that he wanted to clarify that Wally had been invited to the game and that he was not “a jerk trying to take an alligator to a game”.

“We were invited. There’s a big difference. I don’t just do stuff on my own. We were invited,” he told The Independent.

“(Outlets) put a thing on TV now and it was totally wrong, like we tried to do this. They don’t know the story.

“And that’s what upsets me about doing it because they don’t tell the truth when they need to, and they don’t investigate.”

The Independent has contacted the Philadelphia Phillies for comment.

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