Gigantic 700lb alligator is so huge people thought it was a hoax
A giant alligator has been discovered deep in the American South - so big, it took people a long time to be convinced it was real.
Pictured lying on a dirt road after being pulled from a ditch near Lake Blackshear in the state of Georgia, the alligator has been disputed as fake or Photoshopped, but the man standing behind the giant reptile can say for sure: it's the real thing.
Brent Howze is a wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and claims to have pulled the giant creature out himself. "Apparently a lot of people think it’s fake, but I can assure you that it is not," he explained to the Cordele Dispatch. "I’m the one in the picture, and you can probably tell that I didn’t get too close to it."
Howze explained that he'd been called to the area by a local resident who spotted the gator in an irrigation ditch. When he was called out to Lake Blackshear, the biologist was expecting an alligator around 10 to 11 feet long, but when he got there, he was taken surprise by just how big it was.
Measuring 13 feet and 4 inches long with a chest girth of 57 inches, Howse said the animal weighed around 700lbs, and needed the help of equipment to get it out of the ditch where it was discovered. "It took a while to get it out of that ditch. It was bigger than we originally anticipated and we had to use heavy equipment to move it," Howze explained.
But once they'd got the animal out of the ditch, they studied the body and found something rather sad. "It was a very old alligator in poor body condition with what appeared to be gunshot wounds," said Howze, revealing: "It’s an unfortunate situation, but the best thing for the animal was to put it down."
Howze says that gators that size are far from uncommon in that part of the country.
"There’s only one way for an alligator to live this long, and it’s by avoiding humans," explained Howze, adding that he'd have no problem being in the water this summer. But weirdly enough, this isn't the first time people have had trouble deciding whether a giant alligator was the real thing.
Footage of an alligator strolling along a Florida golf course a few years ago was widely derided as fake, but fact-checking aficionados Snopes were quick to verify: it was a real alligator. First discovered in 2016 via viral video, course employee Wendy Schofield explains that he had become the course's unofficial mascot.
"People have heard that he is out here and that is all they want to see so they will bring spectators to ride so somebody can get a picture. He doesn’t bother anybody and they don’t bother him."
Giant alligators are more common than we think - the largest alligator on record in Georgia alone was found in 2015, and said to be as big as 14 feet long.