The largest captive alligator in the United States, named Big Tex, lives in Beaumont, Texas and went missing after Tropical Storm Imelda flooded the area.
The storm swamped many parts of Southeast Texas with more than 40 inches of rainfall starting on September 17th. The park where Big Tex lives is called Gator Country and it received a whopping 43 inches of rain in 72 hours.
“It was worse than Harvey for us,” Gator Country owner Gary Saurage said. “We did this almost exactly two years ago to this date. The water was higher (in Imelda) than it was the last time.”
Gator Country staff checked on their gators after the rainfall. Big Al, their 84-year-old 13-foot-long gator was happy and content, but when checking up on Big Tex, a gator measuring in at 13 feet, 8.5 inches long and weighing 1,000+ pounds, he was missing.
“We were unsure he had even escaped,” Jon Warner, alligator program leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, told the Washington Post. “But when the water level went down, Big Tex wasn’t there.”
Luckily, Big Tex was finally found once the waters receded! He was 100 yards away in a pond on the Gator Country property, which is 21 acres.
It took a lot of man power to get the massive gator out of the water and back to where he lives and although Big Tex was found, there are still several alligators missing.
Warner said those gators are “mostly just three-, four- and five-footers” which “probably just swam over the fence.”
He wants people to know that these are not wild alligators and won’t terrorize people. In fact, they are “highly acclimated to people and are generally hand fed.”
But, Warner tells the public: “Alligators are wary of people but keep your distance. Never approach, harass or feed an alligator. When water levels recede, the alligator will likely disappear as well.”