PHOENIX — Mr. Stubbs, the Valley alligator who made headlines a few years ago after he received a custom-made prosthetic tail, has passed away.
The Phoenix Herpetological Society announced the gator's sudden passing earlier this week in a social media post.
"Our sweet Mr. Stubbs left us to meet #steveirwin in the great alligator beyond," the society wrote. "He was always a grumpy little guy but his fiery spirit will be missed by many."
Sanctuary workers believe Mr. Stubbs succumbed to a scorpion sting in the water and was unable to come back up for air. Daniel Marchand, the Executive Curator for the sanctuary, said they found the scorpion floating in the water alongside Mr. Stubbs. He believes the alligator tried to eat the scorpion when it stung Mr. Stubbs' tongue.
Marchand said, “[Scorpions] are our biggest problem as far as they're the most dangerous to our animals.” Adding it's happened in the past at his sanctuary with an 800-pound crocodile getting temporarily paralyzed from a scorpion sting. "We actually had to tie him on land and just keep a hose on him because we couldn't let them go in the water," Marchand said.
The tailless gator attracted a bevy of media attention in 2018 after he had a 3D-printed tail attached to his body. Mr. Stubbs traveled on tours to educate the public. "He was a very key animal in our facility," Marchand said.
Tails are essential for an alligator's survival since they help the reptiles swim and stay afloat in the water.
Before arriving at the Valley sanctuary, Mr. Stubbs was illegally held captive by a California man and may have lost his tail after he was attacked by one of the other gators the reptile lived with.
Michael Biggs, a Midwestern University BioMed student, worked with the sanctuary to develop an appendage that could be attached to Mr. Stubbs and serve as a replacement tail.
“He can actually float normally in the water and swim if he wants to,” Biggs told 12News in 2018.
More on Mr. Stubbs' story can be found here.
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