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Gator hunter on moments after catch: ‘... Had a nice little cry’

After the job was done, the pressure of capturing Humboldt Park Lagoon’s most wanted finally got to Frank Robb.

Alligator hunter Frank Robb
Sun-Times/Rich Hein

He captured the beast. And then he had a good cry.

Frank Robb’s tears flowed along the banks of the Humboldt Park lagoon after he captured the alligator that had drawn the attention of millions.

“We taped him up and tied him up, and then a couple grown men had a nice little cry,” he said of the moment he shared with Taurus Drake, the Animal Care and Control inspector assigned to assist Robb.

“It’s the truth, man. There was a lot of emotion there, you know? There was a lot of pressure from every angle. It was a big energy release. It was like, ‘Man, we’ve got to sit down and digest this for a second.’ And it was a beautiful thing. Praise God.”

Not long before the capture, Robb had been on the phone with Mayor Lori Lightfoot, explaining in great detail his plan to catch the gator. It was a task that a volunteer with the Chicago Herpetological Society known as “Alligator Bob” could not get done in the preceding days with baited traps.

Robb, 39, talked with the Chicago Sun-Times about the capture while waiting for a sausage and pepperoni deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s Pizza in the West Loop.

It was a stop on the victory lap Robb, an instant local hero, has been taking around the city with Animal Care and Control Executive Director Kelly Gandurski.

“Thank you for letting us accomplish what we came here to accomplish,” Robb said in prayer before taking his first bite.

Florida alligator expert Frank Robb shows off an alligator he rescued overnight from the Humboldt Park Lagoon Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

On Tuesday night, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Cubs game, where he chatted gator hunting with pitcher and fellow Floridian Kyle Ryan.

“It was one nonstop selfie,” he said of his interaction with people who recognized him. Robb also signed a man’s baseball hat after telling the man the signature would only ruin his hat.

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts stopped by at Wrigley Field.

Wednesday morning, Robb turned on Buckingham Fountain and visited the Bean. He also took a ride on Navy Pier’s Centennial Wheel.

Robb had never visited Chicago before.

“Everybody has preconceived notions of big cities, just couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said. “The people I’ve met here and the friends I’ve made, those are friends for life, no doubt about it.”

A decent portion of his prior knowledge of the city came from watching “The Blues Brothers.”

His day job keeps him in Florida. Robb traps nuisance gators, mainly for the state. Places he’s caught gators include front porches, swimming pools, elevators, cars and a missile silo.

His reputation earned him a ticket to Chicago. He arrived Sunday night, caught the gator about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday and is returning to Florida on Thursday.

Robb’s meteoric rise in the brief visit seems unprecedented — attention he swears he did not want.

“I expected to be in here and be low profile, catch an animal and be gone and nobody [would] even know I was here,” he said.

Robb, who is single, said he was unaware of his notoriety attracting any potential companions.

“I saw some comments online about that,” countered Animal Care and Control employee Jennifer Schlueter.

“Oh my God,” Robb said, deadpan.

“I don’t think you’ll remain single very long,” joked Gandurski.

Robb said his three dogs — shelties named Opy, Marble and Blitz — are eager for him to return.

“I’m sure they’re excitedly waiting for me to come home,” he said.

Meanwhile, the gator is scheduled to be transported Thursday from Animal Care and Control headquarters on the South Side to its new home in Florida at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.