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Alligator visits Riverside Park duck pond (w/video)

By Bianca Montes
June 23, 2014 at 1:23 a.m.

A small alligator swims in the duck pond at Riverside Park in Victoria.

Glinda Balfanz thought Monday would be the perfect day to take her grandchildren to feed the ducks in Riverside Park.

The ducks, however, were steering clear of the water to make room for an alligator.

"There are a lot of kids feeding the ducks out here, and it's not safe," Balfanz said.

Officials with the Victoria Parks and Recreation Department said they were aware of the alligator in the pond and were waiting on Texas Parks and Wildlife to remove it. As of 5 p.m. Monday, the department did not know when that would happen, but signs were placed around the pond that read, "Caution, alligators may be visiting."

Jimmy Hinojosa and his family were fishing in Riverside Park when they needed more bait.

They made a quick pit stop to pick some up, and on their return trip through the park, noticed something a little different wading in the pond - the alligator.

Hinojosa, 36, said it was cool to see the alligator up close, but his wife, Jennifer, was concerned.

"It's something I don't see every day," she said. "I'm kind of scared."

Colby Van Gundy, parks and recreation director, said in the year he's been with the department, this is the first he's heard about an alligator in the pond.

In 2010, a gator was reported to have been in the pond but was never found, according to Advocate archives.

Van Gundy said he does not know where the current alligator came from, but he guessed that it crossed over from the Guadalupe River. Recent rains have caused the river to rise.

This is not the first alligator encounter in recent time.

On Thursday, a man was hospitalized after he told officials an alligator bit him on the neck while he was swimming in Coleto Creek late at night, and in late May, an alligator was removed from the front yard of a home on Lance Lane.

And, in 1987, a 6-foot alligator was captured by Victoria Animal Control near Holy Family Catholic Church. In 1984, a gator was caught by the animal shelter at the duck pond.

The recent attack has stayed on the mind of Jennifer Hinojosa, who is now even more wary about the alligator she saw Monday.

"It's not cool because families love to see the ducks, and now we have to worry about him climbing out," she said.

Robert Wallace, who said he's old enough to know better, isn't worried. He said he comes to the park often, and the nature is part of the fun.

"I like it," he said. "It's nature. It's natural."

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