Alright, alright. We know Florida is often the butt of the joke. But us Floridians (even the transplants) appreciate the weird, funky state we live and the unique quirks it offers.
So when the city of Chicago recently found itself with a little gator problem, what’d it do? Well, the winds off Lake Michigan blew eastbound and down to the Sunshine State. Because when you’ve got a uniquely Florida problem, the only one who can help is Florida man.
In this case, that man was Frank Robb, a Florida Alligator trapper from St. Augustine.
For about a week, Chicagoans tried to capture a 5-foot, 30-pound alligator set loose in a Humboldt Park Lagoon on the city’s west side. The gator, named Chance the Snapper, is believed to have been put there by a regretful and illicit pet owner. And, like a Cat 5 hurricane, Chance took Chicago by storm, inspiring craft beers, t-shirts and a watchful fan base trying to capture it.
Some tried luring it out with other animals and even a rotisserie chicken, but it only took Robb one cast of a fishing line to reel Chance in.
So, you’re welcome Chicago. But here are 10 tantalizing gator tales from the Sunshine State.
And please, stay weird, Florida. The world will need us again, even if they laugh at us first.
1. That time an 11-foot alligator broke into a Clearwater home
Maybe it was hoping for breakfast, or to read the recently delivered Tampa Bay Times. Perhaps it was trying to break one of the red wine bottles it literally broke. Either way, a 77-year-old woman was startled when what she thought was a collapsed AC unit turned out to be an alligator on her kitchen floor. Now she’s a local celebrity. Spoiler alert: She loves it.
2. Or the time a 463-pound gator tried crossing a major Florida interstate
Even an experienced Florida trapper thought this 12-footer wandering Interstate 10 in a daze near Tallahassee was a big one.
3. There was also the time a 750-pound gator wandered into an office park
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Rumor has it, this monster gator posted its resume on monster.com, but went straight to the source when it didn’t get a reply.
4. Don’t forget that gator who took a stroll down Brandon’s busiest road to go to Waffle House
After a few attempts to disorient it with a blanket over the head, and what may have been the slowest foot chase in the 174-year history of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were able to get onto the gator’s back, tape its jaw and legs together and load it into the back of a cruiser. One might say they smothered and covered it.
5. Also, the gator who rode shotgun in a Hardee County man’s truck
Anthony Richardson told deputies that the alligator was given to him by a friend and that he planned on releasing it into a nearby river. They also reported finding drugs in his vehicle.
6. And the gator who decided to sun bathe on an Air Force base runway
The base posted a photo of the gator on its social media calling it “Your friendly, #TeamMacDill gator – preparing for take-off.” Maybe that’s how Chance got to Chicago?
7. Then there was the septuagenarian who kicked a gator in the snout to save his dog
Buddy Ackerman was taking his daughter’s golden retriever Osi out for a walk near his Palm Harbor condominium. When an 8-foot gator latched onto Osi, the 75-year-old went into fight mode, kicking the gator and saving the dog.
8. And the couple who posed with a gator in their maternity photo
9. The woman who pulled a 1-foot gator out of her yoga pants
Charlotte County Sheriff’s officials suggested an explanation on Twitter for the incident: “Not to be outdone by #FloridaMan, a #FloridaWoman pulled an alligator out of her pants.”
10. Don’t forget alligator attacks are on the rise in Florida and we are to blame
The American alligator, one of the Sunshine State’s most ubiquitous reptiles, wasn’t always so. At one point, they were hunted to near extinction and placed on the endangered species list until it was taken off in 1987. Since then, scientists say, gator attacks have been on the rise in Florida and humans are to blame.