DOWNTOWN — We’ll start with the bad news: Chance the Snapper, Humboldt Park’s beloved alligator, is leaving Chicago permanently.
The gator, who was captured at the lagoon early Tuesday, will depart the city as early as Thursday, according to Animal Control. He’s headed to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida, which is actually a part of his species’ native range, unlike Chicago.
And expert gator trapper Frank Robb said it’s a good thing.
“It’s pretty much a five-star resort for crocodilians,” Robb said at Animal Care and Control. The farm has every crocodilian species — 24 to be exact — in one place, he said.
“No harm will ever come to him…He will have zero worries for the rest of his life. He will be on easy street,” Robb said. “I promise he will be living in luxury.”
Robb, who has been an alligator trapper for 24 years and learned under the watchful eye of his uncle, said Chance will be in great hands with top crocodilian experts and researchers.
“There is no better place in the world for crocodilians,” he said.
While Robb and Chance will say goodbye, for now, the expert trapper said he will visit him once a month during research trips to St. Augustine.
“We will be buddies,” Robb said.
Animal Control was prepping Chance for departure on Wednesday.
Chance was first spotted at the Humboldt Park lagoon on July 9 and quickly captivated Chicago. Hundreds flocked to the park to spot the gator, cheering during rare sightings but otherwise enjoying the sun and spending time with family and neighbors at the water’s edge.
The city’s fascination with Chance made national news.
Volunteers tried to catch Chance, but it wasn’t until Robb was brought in from Florida that Chance was taken in. Robb reeled in the gator early Tuesday, noting Chance was about 5-and-a-half feet long and healthy but was tired.
Chance won over even more fans after wearing a red bow tie to the news conference announcing his capture.
Some had hoped Chance would find a home in Chicago, perhaps at the Lincoln Park Zoo or Shedd Aquarium, but those organizations said they had no plans to take in the crocodilian.
Instead, Chance will be sent to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, which does conservation work for gators, crocodiles and other animals.
St. Augustine also happens to be the home base for Robb’s trapping business, Crocodilian Specialist Services. He also does research with the alligator farm.
In the meantime, Chance’s captor, Robb, has become something of a local celebrity. He spoke at a news conference, threw out the first pitch at a Cubs game and even turned on Buckingham Fountain on Wednesday morning.
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