Video: Parkgoer removes alligator from Wekiva Springs swimming area

Officials gave man permission to move small gator

Justin Rodriguez says officials gave him permission to get in the water and grab the alligator to move it to another area where swimming is not allowed.

Florida’s springs are home to alligators, but it’s not really what you want to see when you’re swimming.

A baby alligator was spotted in a popular area for swimmers at Wekiva Springs State Park and one parkgoer was there to save the day.

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Justin Rodriguez rushed to safely get the little gator out of the way once he realized what was going on.

Rodriguez, who is not a wildlife expert, said he was at the springs Saturday with his family having an early Mother’s Day celebration.

“My wife and I had just got out of the water and our daughters, who are 13 and 12, were next to us and we heard people start screaming and getting out of the water but we couldn’t see what was going on,” Rodriguez said. He then learned from his oldest daughter it was an alligator.

According to Rodriguez, park rangers were standing near the gator but they weren’t sure how to get it out of the swimming area. Rodriguez figured it might take some time to get someone to the park to remove the reptile, so he spoke to officials and then took action.

“I asked them if I were to go in there and grab him and get him out, would I get fined,” Rodriguez said. “They said no you won’t get fined, but we’ll escort you to put it back in the river.”

With permission from park officials, Justin Rodriguez picked up a baby alligator to remove it safely from the Wekiva Springs State Park swimming area. Video taken by Justin Rodriguez's wife.

Rodriguez said he tried a net first but that didn’t work. He said he kept following the gator until it stopped swimming and he was close enough to grab it.

“It worked a lot better grabbing it with my hands,” Rodriguez said. “I just went from underneath it and grabbed it right where I could go underneath its neck and hold it still and pull it up out of the water.”

A large crowd had gathered as Rodriguez removed the gator from the water. In the video taken by his wife, you can hear the crowd cheering as they looked on at the reptile removal.

Rodriguez said he’s never done anything like this before. Rodriguez said his wife knew he was going to do it once she saw him talking to the men with the net and she wasn’t surprised by his actions.

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About the Author:

Stacy is a Social Media Producer for ClickOrlando.com and has been with News 6 since 2018. She graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in advertising and a Masters in social media/mass communications.