It isn’t common for a Philadelphia native to be a natural-born gator wrangler – but it apparently is for one man who caught one in Florida using a trash can.
A 6-foot alligator wandered into the front yard of an Orange County home Tuesday morning. The homeowner, Denise Sparks, told NBC affiliate WESH2 that she would have fainted and been gator food if Eugene Bozzi had not been there.
Bozzi, a Philly-bred Army veteran who goes by the name Abdul Gene Malik on Instagram, used his military training to help capture the scary intruder using an unconventional tool: a garbage bin.
"I don't know the procedures, so I did it my own way," Bozzi said.
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Bozzi was seen in the widely shared viral video confronting the alligator face-to-face as other people watched nearby. Bozzi cautiously pushed the bin closer toward the gator as it hissed loudly and moved back.
After a struggle, the gator was finally inside, Bozzi slammed the lid shut as the gator flopped around inside.
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"I was frightened when I had it in it because it was so powerful, and I didn't expect that," Bozzi told WESH. "And it was pushing itself out, whipping its tail around."
The crowd’s screams turned to cheers as the army vet wheeled the trapped gator across the street to release it in a lake.
The county jokingly tweeted that “alligators are not recyclable,” and urged the public to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission for help, rather than attempting to capture gators themselves.
Florida wildlife officials say it receives a yearly average of 16,000 alligator complains in the state, with many involving gators in backyards, garages, swimming pools, and golf courses.