When Denise Sparks of Orange County, Florida, discovered a 6-foot alligator lurking outside her home, she was not prepared to handle the situation.
Hearing a loud noise, she went outside and was met with quite the scene revolving around the unwelcome reptilian visitor.
“I would have been gator food, I would have fainted,” she told WESH-TV. “Came outside, I was like, ‘What in the world is going on?’ Because I heard a lot of boom boom boom boom.”
Thankfully, someone else was already on the case. Neighbor Eugene Bozzi (also referred to as Abdul Malik on social media) is a dad and military veteran — and both those factors influenced his decision to act quickly to contain the threat.
“I got kids to protect,” he posted in his Instagram share of the resulting video.
He approached the alligator, which was lying on a walkway in front of a house, pushing along an open, empty trash can on wheels and keeping it between himself and the gator.
A gaggle of onlookers shrieked as he advanced, pushing the gator back. It writhed and whipped its body around, resisting.
Eventually, Bozzi dropped the lid on the reptile. It continued forward into the bin. Bozzi righted the garbage can, keeping the lid pressed down, and became the victor.
“Somebody’s gotta step up and do something. We all got to look out for each other, right?” he said. “I was frightened when I had it in [the can], because it — it was so powerful. I didn’t expect that, and it was pushing itself out, whipping its tail around.
“Army training kicked in, just get it done, dropping it in, keep it moving.”
The crowd cheers, the beast is contained … but now what? Catching the 6-foot alligator was only the first step.
As it turns out, the bin worked well for transportation, since it allowed Bozzi to wheel the gator back to the swamp — or rather, a nearby retention pond.
Continuing footage shows him lifting the lid and tipping the trash can onto its side. The stunned reptile slowly exits, and then Bozzi retrieves the bin.
Since the daring catch and release, the video has been circulating on social media, eliciting a variety of reactions.
“Reminder,” the Orange County Florida account tweeted, “Alligators are not recyclable in your blue lid cart.
“Please call the @MyFWC Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4286 for assistance.”
?Reminder: Alligators are not recyclable in your blue lid cart.
— Orange County FL (@OrangeCoFL) September 29, 2021
Eager to dissuade any other would-be alligator wranglers, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has also shared their own reminder of the proper avenues one should use to remove a large, scaled critter.
“Concerned about an alligator?” they tweeted. “Don’t grab a garbage can, call our hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286) & we can dispatch a REAL alligator trapper.”
Concerned about an alligator? Don’t grab a garbage can, call our hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286) & we can dispatch a REAL alligator trapper. https://t.co/lTzsDHl6Bq #WorkWithUsHere pic.twitter.com/fZVJ8I6J5a
— MyFWC (@MyFWC) September 29, 2021
“I don’t know the procedures, so I did my own way,” Bozzi explained.
The hero of the hour said he’s been overwhelmed by feedback: “I got so many inboxes, DMs, and women saying things, men saying things, people that I do know, friends.”
Still, the general response has been one of awe for the Florida man who gave his fellow Floridians a good name and his initiative has earned him quite a bit of acclaim.
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