This photo keeps resurfacing and several of our staff members just got it emailed to them again. So, in our unending crusade to dispel as many reptile myths as we can we will have a go at this one.
Here is the current ridiculous story attached to this photo:
“This alligator was found between Centre and Leesburg, Alabama, near a house! Neighbors had been telling the Rogers that they had seen a mammoth alligator in the waterway that runs behind their house, but they dismissed the stories as exaggerations. Alabama Parks and Wildlife game wardens were forced to shoot the beast. Joe G., 6’5′ tall, a game warden, walks past the 28 foot, 1 inch alligator he shot and killed in their back yard.”
First of all let’s start with the “6 foot 5 inch” game warden. Really? Six foot five inches? Give me a break. Now even the people in the photos are giants.
Once again we are seeing the wonders of forced perspective. It has to do with the angle of the shot and the actual location of man and animal in relation to each other. We discussed forced perspective in a previous post. Have another look at the photo we shot in our parking lot – no Photoshop, just forced perspective.
Now let’s get to the truth about alligators. We have been in the reptile business for 73 years, our staff has a combined 145 years of experience, and we have never seen a reliable report of any alligator over 15 feet long. Our General Curator, Ken Earnest, grew up in his family business, California Alligator Farm started by his grandfather in 1906. Of the thousands of alligators they had in California and in Ken’s later work in Florida he never saw or heard of an alligator over 15 feet long.
And once again I refer you to our reward sign, the one that has been here at the Reptile Gardens for over 50 years. On it we currently offer $20,000 for a 16-foot alligator. However, unlike our 8 foot rattlesnake reward offer, we have never had a single person contact us claiming of having one.
So as is always the case, we have a photo of an impressive big reptile made silly because of someone’s vivid imagination. This was a big gator probably between 12 and 14 feet long, although he is a bit emaciated. And so goes our crusade…to be continued.