Mysterious half-mouthed alligator eludes capture in Sanford park: 'I felt terrible for him'

What started out as a scenic walk for a woman and her dog ended with a shocking discovery of an alligator roaming a park with half its mouth missing. 

Eustacia Kanter said she found the peculiar reptile roaming the pavement near the kayak loading area at Wilson's Landing in Sanford a little over a week ago. As of Wednesday afternoon, the snout-less gator hasn't been captured yet. 

"At first, my brain couldn't comprehend that its entire upper jaw was missing," Kanter told FOX 35 News. "When I realized, I felt terrible for him and snapped as good a photo as I could get with my cell phone standing at a distance so that I could share it and try to find help."

Photo: Eustacia Kanter

Kanter searched for help in a few ways. She not only contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, but also Katrina Shadix, the executive director of Bear Warriors United, an environmental conservation nonprofit organization that aims to protect Florida's natural resources and wildlife. 

Shadix helped mobilize the community to get help for the gator. 

"I get many messages every week from members who find wildlife in distress and know that I have connections with FWC to get help," Shadix told FOX 35 News. "I received a Facebook message from (Kanter) who was at Wilson's Landing. She sent me a picture of the alligator."

Shadix added that she contacted FWC's emergency dispatch line, Gatorland and a friend who is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Gatorland and the rehabilitator, Kim Titterington, said they would both be able to help the alligator, but the FWC would need to deliver it to them first. 

Gatorland said it was contacted by FWC about an alligator needing assistance, but they don't know if it's the same gator seen in Sanford, a spokesperson told FOX 35 News. 

"Gatorland did tell FWC that they were open to taking the alligator in for assessment to determine its survivability," the spokesperson said, adding that they are waiting to hear back from FWC. 

An email from the FWC to Shadix said Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program officers have been out looking for the alligator, but it hasn't been located yet. There haven't been any calls about other sightings, either. 

"If we can safely capture the alligator, we have a licensed facility that has agreed to house and care for it," the email said. 

FWC's Hunting and Game Coordinator said they received a report on August 29 about a small alligator with a missing upper jaw, a spokesperson told FOX 35 News. 

"An FWC officer responded and searched the area for the alligator. The incident is under investigation, and the FWC is continuing to monitor the situation," the statement said. 


Shadix also took to her Facebook page to see if anyone would be able to catch him – and a friend's husband, a humane wildlife trapper, tried his luck. When he went to Wilson's Landing, though, the gator went into deeper waters. 

Titterington told FOX 35 News it's likely the alligator has been without a snout for some time now, since the injury appears to have scarred and healed. 

"It's not recent," she said. 

To survive, Titterington said she can only assume the gator has been eating carrion, invertebrates or other slow, small-moving prey to sustain itself. 

As far as how the injury came about, she said there are two possibilities: the alligator could have gotten into an entanglement with another alligator or predator, or a snare trap could have caused it. 

To report a wildlife violation, call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC, text 847411 with the keyword FWC, or submit a tip online at at You can also download the FWC Wildlife Alert app.