Inmate Timothy Fonseca with the 15-foot steel alligator he created.

By Lt. Mike Tuntakit, AA/PIO
Avenal State Prison

An inmate at Avenal State Prison created a 15-foot, 1,000-pound steel alligator that was donated to the Discovery Center, a children’s science park, in Fresno.

Fonseca’s alligator shares space with a T-Rex at the Discovery Center in Fresno.

Timothy Fonseca, a vocational welding student, created the half-ton alligator.

The alligator was crafted from prison scrap metal and took nearly a year to create. Fonseca, who has been in prison for 22 years, started taking welding classes about a year and a half ago. It’s one of a number of trades in which the inmates at Avenal can earn certificates.

“I grinded it and molded it and grinded it and molded it until I found one shape,” Fonseca said.

“This is their fresh start. It’s an opportunity they have,” said Debra Herrera, Principal at Avenal State Prison.

Fonseca said he wanted to do something to give back and used his time to create this art piece with the hope it would be put to good use.

“I was excited to get this alligator and knew exactly where it could go,” said Discovery Center Director Gary Pigg. “Everyone is born with gifts and graces and sometimes mistakes are made. As long as we own up to them, there’s no problem. Creative work helps heal the mind.”

The alligator is now sitting next to a T-Rex display at the center.

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