(ABC News)–Meet Big Tex! He’s the largest alligator ever caught alive in Texas history, according to Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge officials.
The 13-foot, 8-inch gator was corralled on Wednesday after discovered becoming “a little too friendly” in the refuge’s Lake Champion, according to a news release from Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge.
“We were receiving comments and video of alligators approaching the shoreline when people walked up to crab, fish, or take photos,” refuge manager Stuart Marcus said in the news release. “While the animal had not aggressively attacked anyone yet, it was considered a little too close for comfort.”
Refuge staff thus contacted Gator Country, a nearby alligator adventure park and rescue facility, for help corralling the massive beast, which weighs over 900 pounds.
“Capturing this magnificent creature was truly the pinnacle of my career,” said Gator Country owner Gary Saurage, who’s also star of the show “Gator 911” on CMT.
“All the alligators in the lake scattered out and made room for him and then he stopped about 10 feet from us out in the water,” Saurage told ABC News today.
Saurage’s team then threw pieces of raw chicken to lure the gator closer so that he could lasso it in, he said.
“We had an intense stare-down for about 20 minutes before it decided to lunge,” Saurage said. “I was able to get the rope through his snout and cinch it tight, but then he just took me down the hill, man. I thought I was gon’ be a goner, but then everybody got on the rope and pulled me back.”
Saurage and his team were then able to tie the rope to a tree before then tying another rope to a truck to pull the gator out.
“Seeing the massive size of this live animal in person, it was just unbelievable,” Saurage said.
The gator was tied up and then transported to a pool in Gator Country in Beaumont, Texas, he said.
“He’ll be able to live out the rest of his life in peace here without being harassed,” Saurage said, adding that there “was obvious evidence that people had been messing with him.”
“He had hooks around his mouth and some rope burn,” he said. “He probably would’ve been killed if we hadn’t rescued him.”
After Gator Country put a request on social media for name ideas, Saurage said he’s received “an overwhelming response.”
“We’re probably going to go with Big Tex,” he said. “Almost 85 percent of people said we should name him that.”
Saurage added that his park is home to another alligator named Big Al, who’s grown to be over 1,000 pounds over the past two decades he’s spent at Gator Country.