Could Nearly 600 Gators Escape Reptile Sanctuary After Harvey Floods?
As flooding from Hurricane Harvey reaches unprecedented levels in Houston, some locals are concerned that hundreds of alligators at a local reptile sanctuary may soon be roaming free.
Gator Country’s Gary Saurage and his team posted videos on Facebook of themselves wrangling gators on the street and loading them into trailers as floodwaters rise near the top of the fences.
The facility boasts nearly 600 alligators and other reptile species like crocodiles and snapping turtles.
“This has been an unbelievable storm,” Saurage said, adding that “it’s very possible” for their team to lose the smaller alligators.
But, he assured his largest gators, including Big Al and Big Tex, who were named the two largest in captivity in Texas, were secure and safe from the storms.
Weighing 1,000 pounds and measuring nearly 14 feet, Big Tex could be seen lounging on a mattress inside a family home in a photo posted to Facebook.
“My first priority was to get those [alligators] caught and inside,” Saurage said. "We want to get them inside into shelter. We don't want them around the public.”
He also explained that the reptiles at their sanctuary that can’t swim have been relocated to dry land.
However, the Fort Bent County Sheriff’s Office tweeted that officials “expect them to be displaced,” and warns anyone who spots an alligator roaming free should leave them alone.
But at Gator Country, "they all seem to be right there,” Saurage assured.