CHICAGO — As Chance the Snapper continues to mature inside a Florida alligator sanctuary, he’s breaking out of his shell and assuming a role as a gator king.
Frank Robb, the Florida gator trapper who rescued Chance from Humboldt Park lagoon last year, visited Chance this week. He told Block Club the beloved alligator is still growing rapidly. Chance is also asserting himself as the “boss” of his pen, which includes about 20 other animals.
“He rules that area with an iron Chicago fist,” Robb said. “Nobody messes with Chance. He’s learning to be better about having roommates. … He’s scrapped it up a couple times.
“… You can always tell when a gator is laying on the peninsula. To them, that’s like you or me sitting up on a king’s throne. That’s what Chance is in those ponds, in those areas: He’s on the throne.”
Robb expects Chance to grow to be at least 9 feet within 10 years. He could eventually grow as long as 12 feet, Robb said.
“He’s looking like he’s been hitting the weight room. He’s like a little chubby kid that … got in shape,” Robb said. “He might end up being a 600-pound animal.”
Chance became national news last year when the then-4-foot alligator was spotted prowling an otherwise quiet Humboldt Park lagoon, setting off a week-long search that quickly brought on gator fever.
News crews flocked to the lagoon every morning. Music blared. T-shirts were sold. Adults and kids craned their necks trying to spot him.
The gator, nicknamed Chance the Snapper by Block Club readers, was eventually caught by Robb, who became an overnight sensation.
And since arriving at St. Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida last summer, Chance has grown by a foot.
“He’s living life as a very happy alligator,” Robb said. “He has no worries. He has no concerns. He gets fed every day. … He’s truly living life as a rockstar.”
Robb still primarily works as a gator trapper. You can follow his trapper work here.
Trappers don’t make a lot of money, Robb said. But thanks to Chance, Robb leveraged his newfound fame into launching his nonprofit dedicated to saving more alligators.
Earlier this month, Robb published “Our American Alligator,” a book containing his family’s collective knowledge of alligators. Proceeds from book sales will support Robb’s nonprofit.
“This whole thing in Chicago has blessed me with other opportunities to provide benefits to these animals,” he said. “It still gets me emotional talking about it. So much good out of one little alligator, you know.”
Mina Bloom contributed to this report.
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