Just a regular ole alligator hunter in Florida became a Chicago legend this week, as Frank Robb was called in from St. Augustine, Florida to help Chicagoans capture a gator roaming Humboldt Park Lagoon.
The alligator, nicknamed “Chance the Snapper” (based off of Chicago rapper, Chance The Rapper), had been roaming Humboldt Park Lagoon for a week, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Robb, owner of Crocodilian Specialist Services in St. Augustine, was brought in as a Florida alligator expert. It didn’t take long to get the job done, as Robb successfully captured Chance the Snapper early Tuesday morning, according to NPR.
After Robb captured Chance the Snapper, he became an instant celebrity as he will go down in Chicago history books as “Alligator Robb.” He was also invited to throw out the first pitch of Tuesday’s Cubs-Reds game.
“He’s a pretty quiet guy,” Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts told the Chicago Tribune while hosting Robb at Wrigley Field on Tuesday. “I don’t think he gets that much attention for catching alligators in Florida, but in Chicago that makes you a superstar.”
Former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster joked with reporters, predicting Robb wouldn’t have enough energy to throw a good first pitch after mustering up energy catching Chance the Snapper.
“I think after that moment of capturing the gator it’s all downhill,” Dempster said. “I just don’t think (the first pitch) is going to go very well for him. But you know what, it’s awesome to have him out here doing it.”
But Dempster couldn’t have been more wrong, as Robb threw it right down the middle.
“Alligator Robb” was also invited to turn on infamous Buckingham Fountain on Wednesday.
Here’s what you need to know about the now Chicago legend:
1. Robb Caught the Gator with a Fishing Line
Frank Robb was brought in after residents first spotted the gator last Tuesday in Humboldt Park, on the city’s West Side. He quickly got to work, as officials had to block off roads and paths near the lagoon.
According to NPR, Robb captured the gator with a fishing rod and a line that had a 200-pound test strength. The hook latched onto the base of the alligator’s tail on Robb’s first try.
“One cast and done,” Robb said.
Although it took Robb about eight trips around the lagoon to spot the gator, he got the job done in a snap.
2. Robb Calls Himself Blessed Because of His Alligator Wrangling Abilities
Although Robb was just doing his job, he has gotten a lot of attention from Chicagoans because of his heroics.
After he captured Chance the Snapper at around 1:30am Chicago time, Robb said he could see the alligator’s eyes shine in the darkness. Robb said the gator did some vocalizing after the 30 to 40-pound male was caught. When asked what vocalizing sounds like at a news conference, Robb replied, “That’s a trade secret, buddy, sorry.”
Some were wondering how Robb managed to be so successful so quickly when no one before him could capture Chance the Snapper.
“Everybody’s got different blessings. This is my blessing. This is what I’ve spent every day of my life doing for the past 24 years,” Robb replied, according to NPR.
3. Robb Started Catching Alligators with His Uncle When He Was in High School
Robb’s illustrious alligator-catching career began with his uncle when he was high school, according to the Chicago Tribune.
He is now a contracted alligator trapper in the state of Florida, according to Tammy Sapp, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“You’re on 24/7, 365. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner, and you get a phone call,” Robb said. “You stop Thanksgiving dinner and go catch an alligator.”
4. Although Robb Has Caught Alligators His Whole Life, the Catch in Chicago Was on Another Level
Robb told the Chicago Tribune that he would never forget about Chance the Snapper and the catch he made in Humboldt Park Lagoon.
After walking around the lagoon eight times, Robb and an employee with animal control were exhausted.
“We walked until we about couldn’t walk anymore, searching everything, looking for eyeshine,” Robb told the Chicago Tribune.
After Robb spotted the alligator he vocalized to it – referring to a sound that he makes that mimicks alligators.
After Chance the Snapper emerged, Robb caught it with his hook attached to his fishing rod. He then grabbed his front and back arms, reeled him in, threw him on the bank and then taped his jaw and hogtied him.
“There was so much emotion involved,” Robb said. “There were so many people counting on me. The emotion just fell out. I threw the alligator over my shoulder and let it loose.”
5. Chance the Snapper Is Alive & Well. He Will Be Transferred to an Alligator Sanctuary in Florida Soon
After Robb captured the alligator, he showed him off in a news conference, per NPR. Chance the Snapper is now a guest of Chicago Animal Care and Control, where he will remain “until he is transferred to an alligator sanctuary,” the agency said on Twitter.
“This was an amazing capture by Mr. Robb,” Kelley Gandurski, the executive director of Chicago Animal Care and Control said. “It is a beautiful, beautiful alligator.”
When asked how he captures an alligator, Robb always responds with the same humorous response: “Just barely.”
The alligator will officially stay at St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, said Kelley Gandurski.
“It’s a five-star place for alligators,” Robb told the Chicago Tribune Wednesday while touring animal control headquarters. “He’ll never have any worries for the rest of his life.”
Gandurski said the alligator brought the city together, as not only Alligator Robb but Chance the Snapper will both be considered Chicago legends for life.