CHICAGO (CBS) — The search for the alligator in the Humboldt Park lagoon earlier this month cost the city a total of nearly $34,000.
City officials confirmed to CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas and Tara Molina that the search for the alligator popularly known as Chance the Snapper cost a total of $33,649.17.
The fee for alligator expert Frank Robb, who ultimately caught the gator, was $2,500 – along with $2,166.34 in travel and lodging costs, the city said.
The city just sent me the total costs of the Humboldt Park gator search: $33,649.17. pic.twitter.com/eWfWMCefwN
— Tim McNicholas (@TimMcNicholas) July 31, 2019
In addition, Animal Care and Control officers’ overtime total was $6,140.48; the Department of Streets and Sanitation’s labor costs amounted to $14,917.35, and equipment costs for the installation and removal of fencing and barricades totaled $7,925, the city said.
Chance the Snapper racked up quite the bill during his weeklong stay in the Humboldt Park Lagoon.
The 5-foot-misplaced gator (turned local celebrity) cost the city of Chicago $33,649.17.
$33,649.17. For an alligator.
— Tara Molina (@TaraMolinaTV) July 31, 2019
The gator was first seen in the Humboldt Park lagoon back on July 9.
The city hired Robb, owner of Crocodilian Specialist Services in Florida, on July 12 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 the week before. The city also closed off the eastern half of the park on Sunday, July 14, hoping quieter conditions would lure the gator out of hiding.
Robb signed an emergency contract with the city upon the request of the Department of Animal Care & Control, which noted that there were no contracts or vendors available for capturing alligators and that Robb had been recommended by Brookfield Zoo.
In pitching his services to the city, Robb noted that he had been a trapping agent for Florida Fish and Wildlife for 25 years, and was an active member of the crocodile specialist group.
He wrote that he has also done parasite and endocrinology work with American alligators, and GPS transmitter tracking of alligators across the NASA Kennedy Space Center. Robb added that he has served as a nuisance alligator trapper for the State of Florida.
“I will come there for 2 days and work on it solid for $2500,” he wrote. “(T)his is not a guarantee but I am very confident in what I do. I will bring my own equipment and gear and will catch the animal alive.”
In his pitch, Robb asked that the park be shut down so he could “work in stealth,” and that he be allowed to discuss his plan with “someone in charge of on the law enforcement side.”
“Also I would like to carry a knife for my work,” he wrote. “No harm will come to the animal, it’s just part of my work equipment.”
“Lord willing after I am completed I would have no issues discussing this with the media or even showing them the animal,” he wrote.
Indeed that was exactly what happened. Robb became a local celebrity after capturing the alligator – throwing out the first pitch for the Cubs at Wrigley Field and turning on Buckingham Fountain in the ensuing days.
Robb’s curriculum vitae noted that he holds a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences from Eastern Florida State College, and wrote his capstone thesis on “Exploration of Possible causations of Symptom Expressing American Alligators.”
He wrote that he began doing herpetology surveys with the Brevard County, Florida Environmentally Endangered Lands Programs and had performed a study on Gopher tortoises and controlled burns in forested areas, in addition to his alligator trapping work.
Robb stayed at the Four Points Sheraton Chicago O’Hare in Schiller Park during his stay for a total of $500, documents said. He flew United Airlines between O’Hare International Airport and Orlando, Florida for a total of $699.60.
Early on the morning of Tuesday, July 16, 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.
After being captured, the alligator was taken to a permanent home at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in Florida.
CBS 2’s Molina talked to “Alligator Robb” on the phone Wednesday night. He called his Chicago experience life-altering, and said the alligator has had a couple vet visits and is doing well in his new Florida home.
Meanwhile, the situation with the alligator highlights a big and unusual piece of a problem that still exists – animal dumping. CBS 2 has reported the growing issue across the city.
On Wednesday evening, CBS 2’s Molina was waiting for the city to respond to her requests on how much that problem costs taxpayers every year.