Elementary school custodian stumbles on 6-ft. alligator


Mar 11, 2001
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Custodian Finds Alligator In Pembroke Pines School



April 15, 2002 - An elementary school custodian stepped on the tail of a 6-foot alligator Monday as he prepared the campus for the pupils' morning arrival. Ricardo Pena Loza was walking in an alcove between buildings at Pembroke Pines Charter School when "I felt this lump under my foot and heard a growl." The alligator whipped around and charged at him, snapping its jaws, he said.

"It happened in seconds. I was enclosed between walls and had nowhere to run," said Loza, who jumped over the alligator, which pursued him for a short distance. He ran to get help. "My main concern was for the safety of the kids."

Preschool children and their parents were entering the building when they heard the commotion. They were ordered inside and the doors shut. The school is in southwestern Broward County near the Everglades.

"The situation was immediately under control," Principal Jane Hall said. "We're in the Everglades but also in the middle of standardized testing, so that's where our focus is."

City police Capt. Keith Palant said the alligator probably emerged from a lake northwest of the school.

"These gators are the native residents," Palant said.

Nuisance wildlife trapper Kevin Garvey caught the alligator with a noose and put him in his truck.

"He seemed pretty disoriented," Garvey said.

Garvey took the alligator to a plant in Hollywood where it was killed then processed for its skin and meat. According to state law, any trapped alligator over 5-feet long must be killed.

Garvey said alligators' mating season is between April and June, during which they cross land between canals and lakes seeking mates.

Last year, the Florida Wildlife Commission received 2,500 complaints from residents who spotted alligators on or near their property.

End article


I bet the janitor did a world record high jump when he went over that gator.


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