Remember the Fall River Alligator Captured in an Off-Ramp Swamp?
Remember that time a healthy, five-foot alligator was just chilling in a swamp off or Route 24 South in Fall River? Or perhaps you missed the story when it happened and instead think it's all a "croc?"
We’re going to crawl back in time to October of 2009 and talk about it.
It's hard to remember a world when people didn't get their news – fact-checked or otherwise – from social media. Even in 2009, the news may have been posted to Facebook but we were too busy playing Words With Friends to really notice. You may have caught this alligator tale during the morning drive to work, but if you turned the volume down to order some Dunks, you missed it. This alligator’s five minutes of fame was over.
I think of this story any time I take the exit to William S. Canning Boulevard, as I get stuck in the traffic that backs up behind the new Southcoast Marketplace, I find myself reminiscing about this story and trying to see if I'll spot another.
The story goes like this: it was a perfectly nice, sunny Sunday afternoon and Fall River motorists had called Animal Control with reports of seeing an alligator lounging about in the grass by the Harbor Mall.
I guess if one call came in, it would be easy to just ignore or chalk up to some silly kid prank. Why would an alligator be casually sunbathing in the most un-Florida-like place ever? But because a few calls came in and everyone said they saw what they saw – an actual, real-life gator – Animal Control called the most obvious person around, Animal Instinct’s Bob Schenck.
All of Greater Fall River knows that Animal Instincts Aquarium and Pet Center was the place to see exotic reptiles and animals like Speedbump the Tortoise (RIP), boa constrictors, chinchillas, hedgehogs, and all the other stuff that make dads say, “Let’s totally get four bearded dragons and a tarantula. Mom doesn’t have to know.” A store that has all this going on is obviously run by a guy that would know exactly what to do. So Schenck and his roll of electrical tape set out to capture the rogue reptile.
Without incident, Schenck caught the alligator and turned it over to environmental police. It was a few days before someone from Tiverton, where it legal to own alligators as pets, came forward and said the reptile was his. But the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife said Nah, you can’t have it back, and that was the end of that story.
Stories like this are the stuff we all missed before smartphones and heavy dependence on social media.