Big Al Gator
Collier's Reserve Natural Resources Group
An Interview with Big Al Gator
By Jutta Lopez
It's one of those dog-day August afternoons at Collier's Reserve. I'm on the 13th hole, big lake next to the Ebben home, when I happen to spot Big Al. I wave - he bellows, lifts his head and tail in greeting, and then shimmies up to my golf cart for a chat.
JL (Jutta Lopez) - So, Big Al, now that the mating season is over, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
BAG (Big Al Gator) - I've been doing a lot of thinking about who I am and what I want to accomplish as we enter the millenium. You know, I'm 20 years old. With half my life over, I can't help but wonder if I've made any worthwhile contributions to my society. My kind has survived from the age of the dinosaurs. But I feel like a loser. Nobody likes me.
JL - Big Al, I think you are being unnecessarily hard on yourself. You keep the lakes clean by eating dead fish, animals, and birds. I mean it is true that you are not very selective and attack who and whatever you can when you're hungry.
BAG - This isn't a Publix, you know! So I eat an occasional little yellow bird. I also prey on raccoons and opossums when they swim out to feed on birds and eggs in the waterbird rookeries. I love chowing-down on rattlers. Now, humans are another story. Frankly, I'm afraid of you guys. But my sweetie Big Bertha who lives on the other side of town is getting pretty chummy with some humans. I wouldn't be surprised if you read about her in the paper for having attacked a person. She tells me some people get awfully close to her and she is no longer scared of them.
JL - Is Big Bertha your honey?
BAG - She's last year's model. Every April, I mate with a new female who has selected me as her partner. This year Hot Lips and I produced about 30 to 50 eggs. They've hatched and the babies are already practicing their laps around the lake.
BAG - By the way, I've seen some pretty frightening looking shoes on some of the golfers. Are they made of real alligator? You know, we were hunted to near extinction. Between 1870 and 1970, 10 million gators were killed in Florida. We are just a fraction of our population from what it was 150 years ago. We are only found in the southeastern U.S., from North Carolina to Texas. The only other species of alligator in the world is found in China.
JL- No Big Al. The shoes are fake alligator and they are waterproof. Real leather gets wet. Just kidding!! Seriously though, alligator hunting has been banned since 1961 and is strictly regulated by Florida laws.
BAG - Listen pal, I better get dinner going. The light is dimming. I've got great night vision and I see clearly underwater; that's not the problem. It's just that right about this time, there are a few little doggies that go out for a walk. I feel lucky tonight.