LEAGUE CITY — No one will ever confuse him with Crocodile Dundee or the late wildlife expert Steve Irwin. Still, Keith Gross’ brush with wild animals last week might have come out of an “Animal Planet” show.
On June 28, Gross was driving along South Shore Boulevard when he yielded for a pedestrian. It was no ordinary person crossing the road — it was an alligator.
“I stopped, thinking it was a big turtle,” Gross said. “I noticed it was too big. Then I noticed its mouth was taped shut. I ran after it, (and) caught it with my bare hands.”
Gross had no idea why the 2-foot-long gator had its mouth taped or where it had come from. He took it home and kept it in his garage as he called League City police and animal control to find out what to do next.
The officers called Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for guidance.
Gross’s wife, Kellie, documented the wildlife adventure on her Facebook page.
She wrote: “There’s an alligator in my garage. Really. Right now. It would have died if Keith didn’t stop.”
The officers that stopped by said the best thing was to release the gator back into the wild.
So Gross drove out to the Fay and Ned Dudney Nature Center off Egret Bay Boulevard and, after taking the tape off the gator’s mouth, released it.
But his brush with wildlife was not yet over.
When Gross walked back to his car, he saw a coral snake slithering across a walking path.
“I caught it, too, with bare hands,” Gross said. “I figured it was a coral snake but wanted to be sure.”
He put it into the bin he used to carry the gator and headed home. But not before he saw another snake that he gave brief thought to capturing.
“But that snake, while smaller, appeared to have a diamond-shaped head and I didn’t want to push it,” Gross said. “I had already lucked out grabbing the coral snake. Getting another snake ... I would have for sure been bitten.
“I would have been too embarrassed to go to the emergency room and say I caught two snakes with my bare hands and got bit.”
Gross took the snake home, which didn’t please his wife.
“We did some research and found there really isn’t any antivenin around,” Gross said. “And (our daughter) couldn’t have any friends over with that thing in the backyard.”
So he took it to his law office.
He called the Houston Zoo to see if the keepers wanted it. They declined.
He reached out to Moody Gardens. No dice.
So he released the snake in a wooded area near his office.
Why didn’t he just kill the snake or let the alligator be?
“I don’t believe in killing anything,” Gross said.
He was the second League City resident this past week to have a run in with a coral snake.
On Wednesday, David Greif found a coral snake as it tried to get into his house. He used a child’s play bench and some barbecue tongs to grab the snake, he told KTRK-TV.
Greif also released the snake in a nature area. When the TV report aired, Kellie Gross “freaked out,” her husband said.
“She figured the snake I let free found its way to the other house,” Gross said.
Not likely. Photos of the two snakes show that Gross’ snake was smaller — and Gross was on the opposite side of town when he let his snake go free.