Larry The Alligator is no longer living in his pond near Brownwood.
It was unclear Thursday morning why or when Larry had been quietly removed from his longtime home in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown. But a press release from Gatorland confirmed that the 800-pound, 12-foot-long alligator had been relocated to the facility near Orlando.
“We brought Larry to Gatorland as part of our conservation efforts to protect large nuisance alligators and save their lives, since they are often removed and euthanized,” said Gatorland President & CEO Mark McHugh. “This project is funded through our conservation arm, Gatorland Global, where we have saved dozens of giant, nuisance alligators over the years.”
McHugh added Larry’s new home will be in a much larger setting than his cozy personal pond in Brownwood, which is located just off County Road 44-A and Shady Nook Run, about a block behind the Citizens First Bank branch in downtown Brownwood.
“Larry will live out the remainder of his days with over 120 alligators on our large 15-acre Main Lake, eating fish, red meat and chicken, and sunning himself on our awesome gator beaches,” McHugh said.
It also was unclear Thursday if anyone had complained about Larry being a nuisance. In year’s past, The Villages’ most popular alligator has been known to pretty much keep to himself while enjoying sunbathing on the banks of his pond. His presence on the banks often drew onlookers who stood behind a fence while snapping photographs or shooting video to share with friends in other places.
Larry, who even has his own Facebook page, was in the news just last week when he was caught on video by Villager Marc Scher and his son, Jacob, as he strolled across the golf cart path next to his personal pond.
Last March, as he does many days, Larry also drew quite a crowd of onlookers when he climbed ashore to sunbathe for a bit. At one point he almost appeared to be smiling as proud grandparents showed him off – from a safe distance – to their grandchildren and other visitors.
On Thursday afternoon, there were close to 80 comments on Larry’s Facebook page about him being quietly removed from The Villages, along with a photo showing that a sign with his name on it had been removed from the fence near his pond.
“A little girl worked hard to make that sign for Larry,” the post read.
Many expressed outrage that Larry had been taken from the community. Some questioned why he was removed. And one suggested that a “grouchy Villager” must have called and complained so he or she could walk their dog closer to the lake – something wildlife officials warn is never a good idea in the Sunshine State.
“I’ve never seen so many people complain about creatures that they knew were here first!” wrote Carol Abbruzzese, who originally is from Philadelphia. “You knew what you were getting when you moved to Florida!!!!”
The decision to remove Larry also upset two Villagers, both of whom weighed in on the topic on the Facebook page on Wednesday night.
“I find it infuriating and heartbreaking at the same time,” wrote Judy Letus, who lives in the Village of Gilchrist.
Nanette Hayner, who lives in the Village of Charlotte, agreed.
“I’m outraged that this was done with so little fanfare,” she wrote. “Everyone loved Larry and we never had a chance to say goodbye.”