ORLANDO, Fla. — Chester, Gatorland’s first rescue alligator, has died, the park announced on social media.
What You Need To Know
- Gatorland announces the death of its rescue gator Chester
- Chester, who was popular among visitors, had health problems before his death
- The gator was captured near Tampa and brought to Gatorland in 2002 after being labeled a "nuisance"
The gator, who had a reputation for being a bit of grump, died last month following some health issues, according to the park.
Chester, believed to have been born in the early 1960s, was captured near Tampa and brought to Gatorland in 2002.
“About 20 years ago, all the human development, starting building houses and shopping centers around Chester’s neck of the woods…well, that’s where the trouble started,” Gatorland president and CEO Mark McHugh said in a tribute video. “We’re pretty sure the people in the neighborhood there started feeding Chester in the pond he lived in. Although they were well-intentioned, they were actually conditioning Chester to think that people are food and everything around people is also food.
McHugh believes that when Chester started to lose his natural fear of humans and began to develop a taste for people’s pets.
To keep Chester from being trapped and euthanized, as was typical for “nuisance” gators, Gatorland sought permission from the state to trap Chester and keep him at the park.
The request was granted and Chester lived the rest of his life at Gatorland, gaining quite the following among visitors. He was also known for his size, measuring in a 13 and a half feet long and weighing 1,000 pounds.
A few months ago, the Gatorland team noticed that Chester had lost his appetite and experts and veterinarians were called in to begin a treatment program on the gator. Chester died of intestinal blockage on Dec. 7.
The video titled “In Loving Memory of Chester the Alligator,” also included footage of Chester interacting with handlers and park visitors over the years.