Alligator visits downtown

Published 12:09 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013


A call came over police dispatch Friday afternoon calling for an animal control unit because, “A one-foot alligator was on the square on West Street,” right in front of Jessica Cannon’s photography studio.

When a Bainbridge city animal control officer arrived to the scene, he found a small alligator – one smaller than his shoe and a small crowd of three locals taking pictures with their smart phones. Animal control units said they have picked up alligators before, but this was the first time in the history of the city one arrived on the town square for a visit.

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Theories are varied as to how the tiny reptile showed up on the square Friday.

When Chip Perry was walking from the courthouse back to his office late in the afternoon, he spotted the alligator and thought it was a practical joke.

“I thought it was a toy, and that someone was spoofing me,” Perry said, who said he even looked around him when he saw the alligator to see if anyone was watching him, playing a prank. “Then I saw the gator move just a bit and realized ‘Wow, this is a real gator.’”

Perry, after watching one person on the street walk right over it without noticing, called for the animal control unit for the safety of the community, but also the alligator.

“He was headed in the direction of the park, which would have required crossing West St.,” Perry said, concerned the reptile would be run over in rush hour traffic. “He definitely needed to get back home.”

Animal control officer Jeff Turner responded to the scene. He put his foot in front of the baby alligator, to which it reacted with a hiss. Turner simply reached down, picked it up with a protective glove and placed it in a cage in his car.

“He didn’t scare me a bit,” Turner said, who has never picked up an alligator before but in Bainbridge, mostly deals with the cat overpopulation. “I thought the whole thing was funny.”

Turner took the critter to Hale’s Landing where he set him free back into the water.

But while Turner suspects the alligator’s visit to downtown was a prank, Perry has several other theories.

Turner said he believes someone caught the alligator, the size of an iguana, on fishing line and instead of releasing him in the water, put him on the town square.

Perry said he definitely came from the river. Perry’s son-in-law suggested to him a large predatory bird could have picked up the alligator for lunch and then dropped him.

Either way, he was far from home.

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