Phoenix alligators prepare for moving day

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - You've heard of "Snakes on a Plane," now there are "Alligators on an Airplane!"

Three rescued alligators are set to fly from Phoenix to Tampa, Fla., on a Southwest passenger flight Wednesday morning. They'll be in secure crates in the cargo section.

The alligators, named Little Beefer (a female), Simon and Theodore, have been living at the Phoenix Herpetological Society in north Scottsdale for about six years since being rescued.

Little Beefer was found in the back of a trailer with about 30 other gators in Casa Grande in 2005.

The other two reptiles were confiscated by the Department of Game and Fish from owners who kept them illegally.

Now all three are headed to Florida to live at a sanctuary run by an alligator enthusiast.

"This gentleman contacted us and he said he had all the papers and permits," said Russ Johnson, president of the Phoenix Herpetological Society. "What someone in Florida needs more alligators for, I couldn't tell ya, but I'm more than happy to send them to him."

Johnson says the alligators will have much more space and a better home in Florida.

He and other volunteers spent Tuesday afternoon trying to secure the gators, then carry them to specially crafted crates. The alligators were loaded in one by one and the crates, which are lined with wet towels, were drilled shut.

The alligators were set to be transported to the cargo section of Sky Harbor International Airport late Tuesday to await their flight to Tampa.

Their new owner paid their airfare, but Southwest offered a highly discounted rate. A spokesperson said they support the mission of the Phoenix Herpetological Society.