According to the owner, they haven't escaped... Yet.
An alligator sanctuary in southeast Texas, which is at the heart of Hurricane Harvey, has announced that there is a risk that their gators could escape it should the floodwaters continue to rise at the same rate. The sanctuary, called Gator Country, is located in Beaumont and the workers have been constantly patrolling the 15-acre preserve to ensure that the water levels don’t get high enough for their reptile residents to escape.
“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.
Fortunately, the sanctuary houses animals that aren’t too disturbed by the increasing water and don’t need to be evacuated like others. However, there are more than 350 alligators housed outside that could make a break for it if the waters reach over the fence. Saurage assured the station that their two biggest alligators, Big Al and Big Tex, are in trailers and that residents don’t need to worry about the risk of them escaping.
Despite the name of the sanctuary, they also house other creatures that are not alligators, including venomous snakes and crocodiles not native to Texas. Those animals were captured and placed in areas that are high enough to face neither drowning or escape.
When faced with questions after his interview on Monday, Saurage took to Facebook to confirm that none of the animals have escaped yet, despite the circulating rumors.
“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 to indicate the small size. “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.”
Saurage said that if the waters do allow a breach in his facility, it would wash away 12 years of work in which he’s caught and rescued alligators from people’s backyards and ponds. His frustration is palpable, but he and thousands of others around the state are facing similar loss and must wait until the storm is over to survey the damage. Despite this upsetting situation, he remained positive on social media for his followers.
“I promise you we’re going to make a comeback,” he said in a Facebook video. “I don’t quit that easy.”
Though Texas residents may see loose alligators in their neighborhoods, this doesn’t mean that they’re from the sanctuary. The alligators are acting just like the other humans and animals affected by the flooding and looking for higher ground as the floodwaters rise. With all the commotion at his own facility, Saurage has said that he cannot respond to any calls he receives about alligators needing to be captured. It’s advised that residents who see an alligator should wait until the water recedes before moving into the area.