It has been over two months since the “knife-gator” surfaced into our lives. But he (or she, for that matter) just as quickly submerged from the realm of public intrigue into the murky depths of bayou country.
Given, there have been a lot of weighty news items on the public’s radar this summer (or sonar, as it were). There were two major mass shootings, Bonnen-gate, a constant barrage of 24/7 Trump tweet coverage and typical summertime climate change fear-mongering.
But we wonder: Whatever happened to the crocodilian who elicited so much compassion and intrigue for having a knife lodged in between its eyes?
Here’s what happened in case you’re one of those who have already filed the knife-gator story into the same file with the measles outbreak or the Julian Assange arrest. An American alligator swimming in a Sugarland-area park (an exurb of Houston in Fort Bend County) appeared to have a steak knife stuck in its head, right in-between the species’s trademark bulging eyes. A local resident caught it on video, which quickly went viral.
The image became a symbol of Texan resilience (though the gator may also hail from Louisiana, we should add). Coverage of the incident gave a quick lesson in reptile studies. A gator’s outer-skin is covered in osteoderms, or bony plates similar to a turtle’s shell, which act as bodily armor. Their skulls are made of heavy, thick bone, which is why any object such as a lodged knife would not likely cause any brain damage. A reptile’s blood also contains antibiotic properties, so death by infection would be highly unlikely.
Alas, the fickle public forgot, and various online news searches found exactly zero follow-up stories. Even the parody Twitter accounts failed to garner any more than 30 hits and as many lulz. The knife-gator’s 15 seconds are up, it seems.
During the momentary spotlight, many theories abounded about the knife-gator. Did he or she run into a carelessly discarded knife from a picnic? Was someone playing a game of mumbletly-peg and hit a gator thinking it to be a log? Was it evidence of animal cruelty? How about part of a harrowing survival tale — or a tale of a struggling human having almost survived?
We may never know, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), which quickly investigated the situation and offered a thousand-dollar reward for any information.
A TPWD spokesperson told The Hayride a “licensed gator expert” was contracted to track down the elusive knife-gator, but that he was unsuccessful in locating the injured alligator.
“Our gator biologist theorizes either the knife became dislodged and/or the gator moved on,” said Aubry Buzek, a media specialist with the department.
The department is currently investigating another alligator mystery — this time in Lake Worth, west of the Dallas-Fort Worth area in which an alligator was found deceased and missing a tail. They’re protected species, and killing one without a good reason can incur some serious penalties and even jail time.
Those are the facts. But did the appearance of the knife-gator carry any mystical or prophetic significance? After all, Fort Bend County was in June reported to be the richest county in Texas, followed by the voluntary retirement of three Fort Bend County lawmakers earlier this month. Was it a harbinger of the symbolic stabbing that the Speaker of the Texas House (who represents a district in nearby Brazoria County) committed on several of his peers?
Oh knife-gator, you leave us with so many unanswered questions.