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Star of CMT's 'Gator 911' to hold live shows at Texas Zoo

June 13, 2011 at 1:13 a.m.


Gary Saurage is the co-owner of Gator Country as well as the head alligator handler featured on CMT's "GATOR 911." Saurage settled in Beaumont after a tour in the U.S. Air Force where he started an 18-year career in law enforcement.

Saurage then started a successful alligator guide/hunting service, which in turn led him to becoming a conservationist and champion for the American alligator. As a result, he built Gator Country, a 15-acre adventure park and reservation for alligators, crocodiles and snakes.

Saurage has participated in many studies on the American alligator and holds one of only a few nuisance alligator hunting permits in the state. Saurage lives in Beaumont with his gators, Mo and Chubbs, and his two children, Callie and Kyle. Saurage has also guest-starred on the Animal Planet's "River Monsters" and A&E's "Billy The Exterminator."

"Gator 911" chronicles Saurage's adventures as a conservationist and owner of Gator Country, as he and his team work in dangerous waters to rescue gators from unusual places and deliver them to their new refuge.

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The name alligator is derived from the Spanish el lagarto which means "the lizard." The name alligator mississippiensis means "Alligator of the Mississippi."

The American alligator is also known as the Pike-headed alligator and the Mississippi alligator. Colloquially, it is referred to as simply "gator."

Large American alligators are capable of killing humans, especially children. When alligators attack, it is usually because they feel threatened or perceive the human as a danger to eggs or young, but alligators can also attack because they mistake the human for a much smaller prey. In some areas, alligators are fed by humans, a practice that undermines the animal's natural shyness and instead encourages it to aggressively approach humans expecting food.

The American alligator can travel very fast in water using its powerful tail for propulsion. On land it is generally slow-moving, but it can lunge short distances very quickly.



WHEN: Friday-Saturday

WHAT: Gary Saurage will hold an autograph signing

WHEN: 11 a.m. Friday

WHERE: Interstate Battery, 5210 John Stockbauer Drive. On Saturday, Saurage will host three live shows at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. at the Texas Zoo, 110 Memorial Drive.

COST: On Saturday, adult zoo admission will be $10, and children's admission will be $8. Texas Zoo members get in free.

For more information, log onto or check out the Texas Zoo on Facebook.

The Texas Zoo is looking for welders willing to volunteer their time and people to donate metal or money to buy items needed to build crates for felines to transport them in case of an evacuation.

For more information, contact 361-573-7681.

Gary Saurage is returning to Victoria, and he is bringing his reptiles with him.

Saurage, star of Country Music Television's reality show, "Gator 911" will be in Victoria beginning Friday to participate in a Texas Zoo fundraiser.

Sponsored by Interstate Battery, the fundraiser will help the zoo raise money for general operating expenses.

"There are a lot of things that need to be done at the zoo," said Andrea Blomberg, zoo executive director. "We have to keep this place open 365 days a year, feed the animals, maintain the facilities, pay for heating and cooling. It takes a lot of money to keep the doors open."

Blomberg said the zoo wants to raise at least $8,000 from Saurage's visit.

Saurage, who rescues about 150 alligators a year, came to Victoria in April to replace the zoo's large alligators - Popeye, Sweet Pea, and Bluto - with three rescued smaller ones, who share the same names as their bigger counterparts.

He took the large alligators back to Gator Country, his 15-acre adventure park and reservation for alligators, crocodiles and snakes located in Beaumont.

With donations from Aloe Elementary School, the smaller alligators, who are between 1 and 2 years old, were housed in a renovated exhibit at the Texas Zoo.

They went on display on May 31.

On Saturday, Saurage will do three live Gator Country shows for zoo visitors.

Described as an interactive, educational, up-close-and-personal reptilian adventure, zoo visitors are expected to learn about the rescue and preservation of alligators along with many other species

Other events that day will include dunking tanks with alligators and an opportunity for children to swim with small alligators.

"It will be a fun day," said Blomberg.



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