The photo of the 13-foot alligator is totally real, according to wildlife officials.
On Feb. 18, Brent Howze, a wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, found a “massive” alligator, which was 13 feet, 4 inches and weighed approximately 700 pounds.
He found the gator in an irrigation ditch by Lake Blackshear near Albany, where it appeared to be slowly dying.
“It was a very old alligator in poor body condition with what appeared to be gunshot wounds,” Howze told the Cordele Dispatch. “It was an unfortunate situation, but the best thing for the animal was to put it down.”
In an interview with USA TODAY, DNR spokesperson Sarah Hanson said this wasn’t even the largest alligator to some out of the Peach State. That title apparently belongs to a 14-foot, 1-inch alligator that was found in 2015.
Additionally, she verified the photo was absolutely real, as did Howze, who’s seen kneeling behind the massive gator.
“Apparently a lot of people think it’s fake, but I can assure you that it’s not,” Howze told the Cordele Dispatch. ” I’m the one in the picture, and you can probably tell that I didn’t get too close to it.”
Howze also said people shouldn’t stress too much about the presence of alligators in local waters, as they essentially pose no threat to humans.
“There’s only one way for an alligator to live this long, and it’s by avoiding humans,” he said. “I’ll be in the water at Lake Blackshear this summer for sure.”
According to a DNR fact sheet, male alligators can actually grow up to 16 feet in length, although it’s extremely rare.
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