Humboldt Park

Alligator Catcher Throws Out First Pitch at Chicago Cubs Game

"People ask you how you catch an alligator," said Frank Robb. "Just barely is the answer, because it's usually just barely."

Frank Robb went from a celebrated (alligator) catcher in Chicago, to a pitcher at a Chicago Cubs game Tuesday.

Robb, who ultimately caught the alligator on the loose for days in the Humboldt Park Lagoon, threw out the first pitch at the Cubs' game against the Reds Tuesday.

"He’s a pretty quiet guy," said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts. "I don’t think he gets that much attention for catching alligators in Florida, but in Chicago it makes you a superstar."

Ricketts said when Robb was asked what he wanted to do while he was in Chicago, his answer was to go to a Chicago Cubs game. So, they made that happened - and then some. 

He owns Crocodilian Specialist Services in St. Augustine, Florida.

"People ask you how you catch an alligator," Robb said at a news conference Tuesday morning. "Just barely is the answer, because it's usually just barely."

The alligator was caught early Tuesday after a week of eluding capture, but less than two days after the city brought in Robb, a gator expert from Florida.

Robb said those involved in the capture - which happened at around 1:30 a.m. - had taken about eight laps around the lagoon and the surrounding area on foot overnight before he spotted the creature in the water.

The alligator, dubbed "Chance the Snapper," was about 25 feet from the shore on the north side of one of the lagoon's islands, Robb said.

After they initially spotted it, the gator went underwater for a minute and then "vocalized," which Robb said was "just kind of speaking a little bit of crocodilian," though he declined to demonstrate ("That's a trade secret buddy, I'm sorry").

Robb said he then snared the gator with a fishing rod that had a large hook attached to the line, what he likened to "foul hooking a fish, like throwing a grapple hook over something."

"You throw the hook across it and it just brings him in. It kind of just sits against his skin and brings him in," Robb said. "He popped back up and one cast and it was a done deal."

As for what's next for the alligator, city officials say the animal's next home is still being discussed. 

"Rest assured it will be going to either a zoo or a sanctuary," Kelley Gandurski, executive director of Chicago Animal Care and Control, told reporters Tuesday after the animal's capture. "No harm will come to this gator. It's going to go to a very safe place. We're working out those details still."

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