Padre Island National Seashore/Facebook
On Monday, National Park Service rangers encountered a live alligator on Malaquite Beach, just south of Corpus Christi. While alligators are not rare in South Texas, this particular one was unusual, in that it wore a tag and had a notched tail that indicated it was an escapee from an alligator farm in faraway south Louisiana.
“We are kind of speculating that perhaps it was washed out during one of the flooding events in Louisiana,” a Padre Island National Seashore official told CNN. “It had a significant amount of algae on its back that leads us to speculate that it was floating in the Gulf for a while.”
The official added that the alligator was probably dehydrated, as they can only tolerate salt water for so long. Park staff gave it fresh water and the official said the gator seemed to be in good shape, but “out of its element.” Currently the alligator is being evaluated at a nearby rehabilitation center.
That’s where Texas Highways found this wayward fellow. Here follows our world-exclusive interview:
Texas Highways: Thanks for speaking to us. So, tell us about yourself.
Gator: Thanks for taking the time to interview me and hear the truth. My name is Lazare. That’s it, just Lazare. Lazare the Gator.
TH: Is that Cajun?
LTG: Yeah, it’s a Cajun name. I don’t speak too much of the language but I understand a bit of it; my parents were quite fluent. But let’s get to the point: This business about me washing out of there in a storm is just not true. The fact is, I escaped.
TH: Escaped? From where?
LTG: Like everybody else, I know what laissez les bon temps roulez means, and I had long wanted to visit New Orleans. Did the rains help get me there? Sure, I guess. But I am not some helpless victim here. I have agency, you know? Once there, I did get carried away. Yeah, yeah, I know, everybody told me getting a daiquiri from a street vendor was a bad idea, but hey, rookie mistake. I’d just escaped the alligator farm and, again, this was my first trip to the Quarter. I am not the first nor will I be the last to fall into that trap.
TH: We hear ya! So you left an alligator farm to party in New Orleans?
LTG: Right. I slithered on down to the Mississippi River for a dip. I thought, Hey, I’m an alligator, I live in water, I’m a strong swimmer, but what I didn’t figure on was this little thing called a “current.” I’m used to ponds and swamps—I think you humans have things like pools that are quite similar —but this thing! All the power of all the rivers in the eastern U.S. merged into one! Wow! Once I got swept up in that…
TH: That had to have been traumatic for you.
LTG: At first I was a little terrified by how fast I was going, but then I realized, just go with the flow, man, chill, relax. And the longer this went on, I thought, you know, I may never see my old pond back at the farm again, but life is nothing if not all about changes. I embraced what I’d first seen as a disaster as an adventure, to eat, pray, and love wherever those currents took me.
TH: When did you notice that you were heading toward the Gulf of Mexico?
LTG: In no time at all the water started tasting salty and the current shifted direction. I just rode it out until I saw some lights and swam ashore at a place called Grand Isle. I’d heard this was the premier beach destination in my whole native state, and it was just OK. You know? Same muddy water from the Mississippi, same ol’ same ol’ as my pond back at the farm. So after snagging a nutria or two, I toddled back down to the beach and got back in that current. I hurried past the rest of Louisiana. Miles and miles of swamplands—convenient places to grab a bite: a nutria here, a turtle there, a low-flying heron every once in a while.
TH: Wait, you caught a heron?
LTG: Oh, you didn’t know we could do that? We totally can. It’s one of my favorite party tricks. I’ll lurk just below the surface and somebody will throw a piece of chicken over my pond and I come flying out of there like an orca and snag that thing right of the air. Yeah, I can do that with live birds too. Anyway, where were we?
TH: Swamp coasts of Louisiana.
LTG: As mentioned there had been a lot of rain, and that means a lot more fresh water in the ocean, which I kind of enjoyed and the currents rapidly pushed me west. I’d land and take in the sites here and there. The beaches were getting nicer as we went along. At Sea Rim State Park I realized I was in the place some of us back at the farm called Big Texas. What a thrill! We’d heard tales of legendary beach cities. Galveston, Corpus Christi, and South Padre Island held a magical allure for me. I hoped to see them all.
TH: Did you?
LTG: Well, best laid plans and all that. It was a foggy night and I missed the turn-off at East Beach for Galveston. I’d never reckoned on the logistics of the Seawall, so as I slid rapidly past, I desperately looked in vain for a way to climb it and enter that magical city, whose festively lit attractions like the Pleasure Pier, the famous Poop Deck bar, Gaido’s Restaurant, mocked me, tantalized me. But all was not lost. I was still tracking toward those other magical cities. As I headed south, the beaches really did get nicer and nicer. I could see retiring to a place like Surfside, or Matagorda, or Sargent, but I am years away from my AARA card yet.
TH: AARA card?
LTG: American Association of Retired Alligators. Those huge ones you see just lying there in the sun for days on end? They’ve all got the card. Anyway, the beaches were the prettiest I’d seen yet. And the waves were getting bigger, as I would enjoy taking up surfing. If dogs can do it, best believe so can we gators. And Port Aransas at first seemed like just the ticket, but after reading some brochures I’d found on the beach there, South Padre Island seemed even better. I decided to roll the dice and press on. YOLO and all that.
TH: So it was on to Padre?
LTG: From the brochures, it seemed to fit every single one of my criteria: beautiful beaches ranging from wild nature to serious partying. I was disappointed to have missed Spring Break, but there’s always next year, I thought. Just so many things to do!
TH: Any spots you could recommend to our readers?
LTG: Gravity Park, with its coasters, go-karts on a wooden multilevel track, and a climbing wall. With enough practice on that, I could learn how to climb the Seawall and see Galveston some day! Not only that, all my life I’ve dreamed of flying. Here at Padre, I could do that at one of several parasailing businesses. You can laugh all you want at my dream of being the world’s first flying alligator, but one day I am going to make it happen.
TH: Good luck with that. Well, I think that’s about all the time—
LTG: One other thing… From raiding dumpsters on Texas beaches, I’d fallen in love with Tex-Mex food, and I could see that the farther south I traveled the better it got. But you know, I do have my comfort foods, like turtles, and I saw that Padre had Sea Turtle, Inc.
TH: Oh no…
LTG: Look, death is a part of life, OK? I am not saying I was going to get greedy and go in there and eat a bunch of sea turtles. What I was planning was to go in there and propose to take away any turtles of theirs that might have tragically passed away from natural causes. Why waste that meat, right? But that’s when I got lazy and got caught napping on Malaquite Beach on North Padre Island.
TH: That’s when it all came to an end?
LTG: At the moment of my capture, I was kind of half-asleep, dreaming I was building an award-winning sandcastle—I’d seen that in Padre, they could teach anyone the tricks of the sandcastle trade—and garnering all sorts of acclaim as a Renaissance Gator, a long-distance swimmer who flew, drove go-karts, and built sandcastles…But then I heard someone say I was “out of my element.” Listen to ol’ Lazare when he says, “Au contraire, mon frere.” I was just coming into to my dang element, thank you very much. [Sighs] And now here I am in this “rehabilitation center.” Look, everybody gets wasted on their first trip to the Quarter, and those daiquiris are sneaky-strong. I hardly think that merits a trip to rehab. No, I am not in denial. My bigger, meaner cousins have all told me about that river in Egypt. But…whatever. So long as they let me stay down here, I’ll be alright with it.
TH: Well, glad that you’re going to be OK. Any parting words?
LTG: What is it that y’all say down here? I may not be a native Texan, but I got here as soon as I could.