On Monday we posted to our YouTube account a video of an alligator lumbering across a golf course in Palmetto, Florida. Not just any alligator — a monstrous 15-ish-footer that some observers have likened to Godzilla and others to a dinosaur (in fact, the gator has already inspired its own Jurassic Park spoof). Nearly 10 million people have viewed the clip.
The gator is so massive that it has spawned its share of conspiracy theorists questioning whether the reptile is real.
Enter the diligent folks at Politifact Florida, who this week paid a visit to Buffalo Creek Golf Course to find the beast for themselves. They came up empty, but they did get confirmation from course manager Ken Powell that the gator is indeed in residency, and that he prefers to meander near holes 3, 8, and 14. He even supplied Politifact with another video that should debunk the notion that the gator could be “two guys in a gator suit.”
In case you somehow missed it, here’s the original video that set the internet on fire:
To get a better sense for the alligator’s size, Politifact also checked in with Frank Mazzotti, a professor and investigator for “The Croc Docs” at the University of Florida.
“A large Florida gator would typically stretch 10 to 12 feet,” the site reported. “In his estimation from watching Helms’ video, Mazzotti said the gator was around 12 to 14 feet long. He said he doesn’t think it meets record size.”
So there you have it: A viral gator, but probably not a historic one.