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Gator gal: Texas woman tames 'Godzilla,' male-dominated business

The gator was safely caught and released at a nearby sanctuary

 

The only thing more impressive than the 900-pound alligator named "Godzilla" caught prowling a Texas shopping center Sunday may be the woman who tamed it.

Christy Kroboth, a 30-year-old self-described animal lover and dental assistant, is one of a few female professional alligator trappers in the state.

"Whenever I show up on scene, the police department or animal control always says, 'You're the alligator trapper? We were expecting some guy!'" she told FoxNews.com.

Kroboth received a phone call at 6:20 a.m. Sunday about a 7-foot gator roaming the parking lot of the First Colony Commons Shopping Center in Sugar Land. Kroboth, who earned her alligator handler license two years ago, said she thought the capture would be fairly routine: secure a catch pole around the gator's neck and load the animal into the backseat of her Honda SUV.

But the caller miscalculated this gator's size.

Sunday's capture set a record for Kroboth -- and possibly the state. The 50-year-old gator waiting for Kroboth weighed nearly 1,000 pounds and measured at 13-feet -- with part of its tail missing.

"Nobody thinks I'm the trapper when I show up."

- Christy Kroboth

"He’s probably the biggest live-caught alligator in Texas," said Kroboth, who lives in Stafford, near Houston, and whose assigned area includes Fort Bend County, which has one of the largest alligator populations in the state.

Kroboth used a blindfold, duct tape and a forklift borrowed from Home Depot to load the alligator -- named Godzilla -- into a truck. The giant reptile -- blind in one eye and partially blind in the other -- was released Monday into a protected alligator sanctuary where Kroboth says, "He'll have a happy life."

"He might be able to see only shadows, so he probably got lost and ended up in the parking lot," said Kroboth, who works for the Houston-based Gator Squad. "He was scared and laid down and needed help."

The 5-foot, 6-inch Kroboth is able to hold her own in a male-dominated business in which she is often underestimated.

"Nobody thinks I'm the trapper when I show up," said Kroboth. "They ask, 'You sure you can handle this?'"

Kroboth has handled many alligator captures since receiving her license from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, where she learned the rules and regulations about alligators before basic handling skills.

"If you don’t get bit, you pass," said Kroboth, who is among at least four other female professional handlers in the state, according to Texas wildlife officials.

Kroboth said she receives about five to six phone calls a week -- typically during nighttime or early morning. During peak season in the spring, the volume is much greater -- with Kroboth getting about 30 to 40 calls a week.

After securing a catch pole around the reptile's neck, the alligator typically does a spinning maneuver Kroboth called the "death roll," an instinctive behavior often used to catch and kill its prey.

Once the animal tires from the spinning and its mouth is securely tied, Kroboth said she puts the backseat down in her SUV, curls up the alligator's tail and loads it into her vehicle with the trunk closed.

"I’ve had a lot of gators try to come up and drive the car with me," Kroboth quipped. "We make quite a pair."

Kroboth said her love for animals -- including those often misunderstood -- led her to become a professional alligator trapper.

"People tend to be afraid of them," she said. "And I thought by going into this, I can give them a different perspective."

Cristina Corbin is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @CristinaCorbin