CHICAGO (CBS) — Alligator expert Frank Robb was hoping to “go incognito” when the city hired him to help find and trap the alligator found in the Humboldt Park lagoon, after it evaded attempts to capture it for several days.
Instead, Robb is the city’s newest celebrity, throwing out the first pitch for the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, and turning on Buckingham Fountain on Wednesday.
“When I came here, I had a plan where I was going to try to get in here, accomplish the job I had set forth from the city of Chicago, and get out of here, and nobody ever know I was here,” he said Wednesday morning in Grant Park. “The way it turned out, it worked out too, and it’s been really a complete blessing.”
The city hired Robb, owner of Crocodilian Specialist Services in Florida, after Animal Care and Control teams, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police, and volunteer herpetologist “Alligator Bob” couldn’t lure the gator into humane traps last week. The city also closed off the eastern half of the park on Sunday, hoping quieter conditions would lure the gator out of hiding.
Early Tuesday morning, Robb caught the gator using a fishing pole with a grappling hook on the end of the line. He said all it took was some peace and quiet in the park.
“When we first saw him, he went down for a minute, and then he vocalized. He popped back up, and one cast and it was a done deal,” Robb said.
He certainly didn’t expect to become the toast of the town for doing what he’s done for the past 24 years in Florida.
“I’ve been getting phone calls from area codes I have no idea where they are. I have friends in South Africa sending me information about the story from South Africa. I’ve got friends that do research in India sending me articles from India. It’s been pretty crazy,” he said.
Robb also got primo seats for the Cubs game Tuesday night, and threw out the first pitch.
As for the alligator, Chicago Animal Care and Control director Kelly Gandurski said no final decision has been made yet on where it will go. Officials are trying to find a zoo or sanctuary to take the reptile, but want to make sure it will receive the proper care. For now, he’s being kept in a dark quiet room to get some much-needed rest and relaxation.
Robb said it was clear from the alligator’s health that someone had been keeping the alligator as a pet before releasing it into the lagoon.
“He’d been doing very good for himself, wherever he was,” he said.
While the gator was doing well enough for himself in the lagoon in the middle of the summer, Robb said winter would have been a much different story.
“In a place like this in Chicago, obviously a gator’s not going to have a very good chance of making it year round. It’s a rough situation for the animal,” he said.
As for his plans for the rest of his time in Chicago, Robb was mum Wednesday morning. However, Chicago Park District CEO said he might invite the Florida native to come back next winter to take part in the annual Polar Plunge in Lake Michigan.