UPDATE: Aug. 29 ― The owner of a Texas alligator sanctuary said rumors that his gators have escaped because of rising floodwaters are not true.
Gator Country owner Gary Saurage spoke out on Tuesday afternoon to squash such claims, saying in a Facebook video, “They’re there.”
“I’m not going to tell you that we may not lose a few little alligators like that,” he said while holding his hands out a couple feet. “It’s very possible. But I can tell you that we’re almost through this thing, and we’re holding tight. So all those folks who are spreading this rumor, I’m telling you now, that we have our eyes on this thing and we’re doing all we can.”
An alligator sanctuary in southeast Texas says it’s on high alert as rising floodwaters risk the escape of roughly 350 gators.
Workers at Gator Country in Beaumont have been busy patrolling the watery grounds of the 15-acre preserve as water from Hurricane Harvey’s rain inches closer to the top of fences that enclose the reptiles. As of Monday evening, none had gotten loose.
“We’re less than a foot from going over the fences. All of these are certified high fences, but look ― when it won’t quit, it won’t quit,” Gary Saurage, who founded the sanctuary in 2005, told local station KFDM during a tour on Monday.
Saurage assured neighbors that not all of the sanctuary’s animals risk escape.
“The good news is, we caught all of our crocodiles, all of our venomous snakes,” he said. “Everything that is not from here, we have put up and moved to a safe place.”
That includes two 13-foot alligators, Big Al and Big Tex. Those reptiles have been placed in trailers, where they will stay until the flooding subsides, Saurage said. Earlier, he posted an alert on Facebook requesting help moving the two gators.
Still, Saurage acknowledged that the majority of the sanctuary’s gators will be at risk of escape if water continues to rise. The sanctuary’s website says more than 450 reptiles live there.
Saurage said a breach would wash away 12 years he’s spent catching the creatures from people’s backyards, ponds, and swimming pools.
Saurage posted a video to his Facebook page on Monday, showing off his now-waterfront home with a boat parked outside. “I promise you we’re going to make a comeback,” he said in the video. “I don’t quit that easy.”
Anyone who sees a gator is urged to wait until the water recedes before going in the area.
The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office advised Twitter followers to “expect them to be displaced. Simply looking for higher ground.”
Speaking to the Beaumont Enterprise, Saurage said he is unable to respond to calls about gator sightings for the time being. “I’m focused on containing all our gators here,” he said.