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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Florida Man Brought In To Catch Chance The Snapper, Humboldt Park Shut Down As Gator Search Continues

It's not clear if Alligator Bob, who has searched for the alligator for six days, is still part of the effort to find it. But he did pack up his traps before leaving the park Sunday.

Frank Robb, owner of Crocodilian Specialist Services, has been brought in from Florida to rescue the Humboldt Park alligator.
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HUMBOLDT PARK — After six fruitless days of searching for an elusive alligator in the Humboldt Park Lagoon, the city announced it’s bringing in an expert from Florida and shutting down part of the park in a stepped-up effort to trap the gator.

The orders came from the top — Mayor Lori Lightfoot, according to Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th).

The city’s Animal Care and Control Department said it “is grateful to the Chicago Herpetological Society for its onsite assistance,” and said early Monday they would continue to consult with the group, but their volunteer known as Alligator Bob would not be running the rescue operation.

Alligator Bob has toiled in the lagoon for six days, morning and night, baiting traps and paddling his canoe around looking for the gator. He was on the job Sunday, but later packed up his traps and left the park.

Enter Frank Robb, owner of Crocodilian Specialist Services of St. Augustine, Fla.

Frank Robb

He was hired by Animal Care and Control “to ensure a safe and humane capture of the alligator as well as to protect residents.”

He arrived Sunday “and immediately began assessing the park and lagoon,” Animal Care said in a statement.

In addition, the Chicago Park District, Chicago Police Department, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, Streets and Sanitation, Chicago Department of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources are involved in “making the park as calm and quiet as possible, which will increase the odds of successfully capturing the alligator.”

Credit: Hannah Boufford/Block Club Chicago
Alligator Bob looks for the elusive alligator in the Humboldt Park Lagoon Sunday, July 14, 2019.

Kelley Gandurski, executive director of Animal Care and Control, said the crowds coming out to see the gator could be scaring it.

“The City of Chicago is taking the necessary steps to safely and humanely capture the alligator, which means keeping the lagoon and surrounding areas as calm and quiet as possible,” Gandurski said.

“It is likely that residents who have been watching from the lagoon banks and paths in the park have been influencing the animal’s behavior. We are taking these steps to in an attempt to create an environment that lends to the animal’s safe capture so we can quickly re-open the entire park to activity.”

A section of the east side of the park is being shut down. The western half of Humboldt Park will remain open, including the swimming area and the field house, the city said.

Credit: Hannah Boufford/Block Club Chicago

Ald. Roberto Maldanado, whose 26th ward includes the sprawling park, its lagoon and the rogue gator, said the closures would begin at 9 p.m. Sunday.

A stepped-up police presence could be seen at the park Sunday evening.

Credit: Hannah Boufford/Block Club Chicago

The parking lot outside the park’s boathouse was scheduled to close at 9 p.m.

Beginning at 11 p.m. Sunday, all pedestrian paths within the park and bounded by Humboldt Park Drive, Division Street, California Avenue and North Avenue will be closed until further notice.

Also at 11 p.m. all access to North Luis Munoz Marin Drive east of North Humboldt Drive will be closed off until further notice.

It’s not clear if the closures will stay in place until the capture of the alligator, dubbed Chance the Snapper by Chicagoans. Experts believe Chance was someone’s pet before it was dumped in the lagoon, though keeping a gator as a pet is illegal in Illinois.

The alligator was first spotted Tuesday morning, first reported by Block Club Chicago, and it quickly captured the city’s fascination. Hundreds of people packed the park last week, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive creature.

Credit: Ren’s View Photography
Chance the Snapper

As it continued to swim around and avoid capture, interest in the alligator swelled and became a national story.

When it wasn’t seen for more than 48 hours, there were concerns for its health. But one witness spotted it alive Saturday afternoon. Alligator Bob said he has not independently confirmed that sighting.

Credit: Matt Good
Chance the Snapper, the Humboldt Park alligator, was photographed at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

On Sunday before the park was shut down, more crowds flocked to the boathouse.

Jessica Figueroa, 32, brought her toddler Hank out to see the gator. The 2-year-old has alligator sheets on his big-boy bed and a stuffed gator his family just calls “Alligator,” she said.

On a pre-nap stroll near the lagoon, Hank said, “I wanna see the alligator.”

Alligator Bob did as well.

Sunday was Day Six of the gator hunt, and Bob said he usually catches them much more quickly.

While he spoke to people passing through the park Sunday, he mentioned there were six traps set in the lagoon. But by the end of the night, at least some of the traps had been removed. Bob packed up his canoe and left for the night.

Through the afternoon and into the evening, police officers began to widen boundaries around the lagoon.

Sarah Zinsmeister, 38, said she was on the northern side of the water when police began to move people back from the water. She said she saw Bob stacking traps in his shortly before leaving for the night.

On his way out of the park, Bob stopped to talk to members of the Kasnick family picnicking in the grass not far from the boathouse.

Bob asked the group earlier in the afternoon to keep their eyes peeled for the gator as it would help narrow down where it is in the water. The water was sectioned off into three zones using fencing, he said.

“I’m praying for a new sighting,” he told the group.

Credit: Hannah Boufford/Block Club Chicago
Alligator Bob speaks with people in Humboldt Park before he loaded his canoe on top of his truck and left the park.

Priscila Santoni, a 36-year-old visiting from Jacksonville, Fla., said she’s seen a gator attack before and thinks the precautions in place to keep everyone away from the water is smart. She’s been in Chicago for 12 days visiting a friend.

Onlookers showed up early to the boathouse Sunday morning and continued to trickle in throughout the day.

Harper Dotzel, 28 and a resident of Humboldt Park, was standing at the lagoon for the second day around 9 a.m. Sunday.

“It’s going to be a piece of Chicago’s history, I think,” she said. “Feels cool to be here for it.”

Credit: Photo By Sarah Zinsmeister


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The Humboldt Park Gator Has A Name Thanks To Thousands Of Voters: Chance The Snapper

10 Things Alligator Bob Taught Us About Gators, Life And Everything In Between

As Humboldt Park Gator Watch Enters Day 3, Alligator Bob Says The Creature Is Getting Comfortable

Chicago’s Alligator Search Highlights Illegal Pet Dilemma, But Experts Urge: Please Don’t Just Dump Them

It’s GatorWatch In Humboldt Park As Chicago Comes Together To Search For A Scared Alligator

How Did A Gator End Up In The Humboldt Park Lagoon? Here’s How Experts Rescue Exotic Animals in the City

Yes, There’s An Alligator Living In The Humboldt Park Lagoon … And Chicago Is Cheering It On


Yes, we made shirts to commemorate this very Chicago news story. Designed by local artist Ryan Duggan, get your limited-edition tote and t-shirt here while supplies last.

All proceeds will benefit Block Club Chicago, an independent, nonprofit neighborhood newsroom.