As if Texans didn’t have enough to worry about amid the constant bombardment of water and flooding from Hurricane Harvey, some animal parks now warn that the rising waters could enable captive alligators at these parks to escape their pens.
Image Credit: Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office
Many alligator pens throughout Texas are nothing more than walls to keep the reptiles in and the public out. Without a ‘lid’ to seal the top of the pen from the outside world, rising waters could give alligators a way to climb up and out.
Gator Country is just one of many animal parks experiencing hardships throughout the flooding, and park owner Gary Saurage tells local news agencies that just one more foot of water would bring the water level above the pens’ high-rising fences.
“We’re less than a foot from (water) going over the fences,” Saurage noted. “All of these are certified, high fences, but when it won’t quit, it won’t quit. We’ve worked around the clock, and I don’t know what else to do.”
“I’ve never seen (the water) stay anywhere near this before,” he continued. “The staying power of this storm is just unbelievable.”
While the animal park preemptively removed several animals from their enclosures before the flooding started, the alligators stayed because Texas is essentially their home turf anyway. Only two of the park’s largest alligators were rounded up and stowed away for safe keeping.
In tandem with floating fire ant mobs, alligators are the last thing Texan residents should have to worry about amid property damage and other hardships. On the other hand, experts reassure the public that if any alligators did escape, it’s unlikely they would travel far from the park where they get a constant supply of food.
The park is a fair distance away from urban civilization, residing more than 15 miles away in a rural location. Experts say there’s a higher chance of a wild alligator meeting public masses before any of the captive alligators would.
Locals have already spotted a few displaced alligators throughout the waterlogged state of Texas, but animal control teams were quick to round them up and remove them for public safety.
Anyone who comes across an alligator is advised to leave it alone and stay far away; they’re just trying to find high ground to avoid the floods, not cause trouble. Human negligence, however, can lead to trouble.
Source: USA Today