Gritty was videoed bringing Wally the alligator out and holding him for the "Lion King Cam" portion of the NHL hockey game at the Wells Fargo Center
Two viral sensations — one furry mascot and one reptile — collided at the Philadelphia Flyers home game on Monday night.
The NHL team's mascot, Gritty, appeared with the viral emotional support alligator Wally during the Flyers' game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Gritty brought the scaly creature out during the hockey game's "Lion King Cam" segment — where hockey fans at Wells Fargo Center hold up their kids like baby Simba in hopes of getting on the jumbotron.
A video captured at the event and posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, shows Gritty holding the alligator in both arms. An announcer asks Gritty, "Is that a real alligator?" The mascot nods enthusiastically in response.
Wally — who belongs to Pennslyvania native Joie Henney — also made a cameo in one of Gritty's videos on Instagram. The mashup video captured the "Lion King Cam" moment, Gritty and the gator dancing together and cuddling.
"I ain't afraid of no gator," Gritty captioned the Instagram post.
In a separate Instagram post, the mascot also shared shots of his bonding time with Wally, including a picture of the duo posing on the floor. He captioned the set of photos with "c u l8r."
Wally and Henney — who have amassed over 100,000 followers on TikTok and over 27,000 followers on Instagram — previously made headlines in September when the gator was denied entrance into Citizens Bank Stadium for a Philadelphia Phillies game due to the stadium's policy, which only permits "guide dogs, service animals or service animals in training." All other animal visitors are prohibited, per the stadium's rules.
Despite being turned away from the stadium, the rejected Wally still got loving hugs from Phillies fans outside the venue, according to photos posted on Instagram.
Wally also got love at Philadelphia's LOVE Park last year in August, where he was spotted interacting with kids and families at the popular site.
Henney and Wally initially made headlines in 2019 when Henney revealed how he met the alligator. He said he had taken in Wally after a friend rescued the 14-month-old reptile, according to the York Daily Record.
Henney, who is no stranger to taming wild animals, having previously been a bull rider, told CBS News that Wally improved his mood following a period of deep depression. The alligator's support inspired Henney to share Wally's positive effect with others.
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He brought Wally to schools and senior homes for educational purposes and quickly noticed children with developmental issues especially enjoyed the animal's presence, per the York Daily Record. This observation prompted Henney to seek "emotional support animal" status for Wally, and in December 2018, he was successful.
While Henney believes in Wally's calming powers, the alligator's owner also stresses during his educational visits that wild animals should not be considered pets.
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