(ANIMAL NEWS/HUNTING) Two hunters at Outwest Farms in Okeechobee, Florida claim they’ve captured the largest alligator they’ve ever encountered. Estimated to be around 100 years old, the gator is a whopping 15 feet long and weighs nearly 800 pounds.

But while media outlets are more concerned with the animal’s exact size or whether or not the photos are real, they are overlooking the fact that a magnificent animal has died.

15 foot gator caught in Okeechobee The 800lb creature was fatally shot in Okeechobee, Florida, on Saturday after terrorizing the cattle on a farm. Lee Lightsey, the owner of Outwest Farms in Okeechobee, and hunting guide, Blake Godwin, discovered the enormous animal in their cattle ponds on April 2. On Saturday the creature surfaced around 20ft from them, so they shot it. It was so big they had to use a tractor to drag it out. However, they were then able to use the vehicle to proudly show off their catch. They plan to donate the gator's meat to charity and have the alligator taxidermied for display at their hunting shows and expos
A 15-foot, 800-pound alligator caught and killed in Okeechobee, Florida. Photo Credit: metro.co.uk

Despite this monster-sized loss for the animal kingdom, prominent news sources like CNN and the Washington Post, among many others seem to glorify the event, treating the slaughter as a victory.

When iconic animals are slaughtered, their killers are typically reprimanded for their heinous actions. In the case of famed Cecil the lion, his trophy hunter, an American dentist named Walter J. Palmer, was forced to close his practice and even received death threats following the news of Cecil’s killing. But when it comes to the murder of this 100-year-old massive gator, the hunters are celebrated. Why the disconnect?

This alligator lived for over a century (as Outwest Farms owner and gator hunter Lee Lightsey estimated, while exploiting our country’s natural resources for obscene amounts of money–$10,000 per hunt). This means the alligator lived through two world wars, the Depression, the advent of airplanes, and landing on the moon, only to be unthinkingly killed in an instant. It is akin to cutting down a 100-year-old Sequoia tree to make toothpicks, but even worse, because this is a living being.

Nobody, not the reporter, and obviously not the gator hunter, mourns the loss of this magnificent animal, but we certainly do.

We are in the middle of a sixth extinction, this one caused by human beings. In 20 years time, at the current rate, there will no longer be rhinos, lions, or elephants among many other large mammals living in the wild. Many will be killed by poachers, while others will die off because of habitat destruction and climate change.

In the midst of this catastrophe, it’s crucial to understand that nature and animals are not for our exploitation. This slaughter–falsely justified because some suspect the gator was killing cattle–is nothing but a glorified trophy hunt on American soil.

Read the CNN article below for a rather celebratory take on this grotesque killing and share your thoughts on the matter in the comments below. — Global Animal

15 foot gator caught in Okeechobee The 800lb creature was fatally shot in Okeechobee, Florida. Photo Credit: metro.co.uk
Lee Lightsey along with his nine-year-old son (pictured), his guide Blake Godwin, and two hunters came upon the massive alligator on Saturday, April 2, 2016. Photo Credit: metro.co.uk

CNN, Amanda Jackson and Anne Woolsey

Talk about a big catch! This massive alligator was recently tracked down by hunters at Outwest Farms in Okeechobee, Florida.

Outwest Farms owner Lee Lightsey, along with his son Mason, his guide Blake Godwin and two hunters discovered the creature Saturday at one of the ponds on their private ranch.

“We were on a hunt for hogs and happened to come across the gator. There are natural ponds and waterways around for the cows to drink,” Godwin told CNN.

“There are lots of gators out there,” Lightsey told CNN. “It’s the start of mating season. This was a big one.”

A big one indeed, the animal weighed in at 780 pounds, according to Lightsey. His son Mason told CNN he estimated it was “almost probably close to 15 feet.”

Lightsey told CNN he isn’t concerned over records. “It’s just fun to see a great day for the hunters, the big ones like that are exciting for the hunters.”

Nine-year-old Mason said this wasn’t his first hunting trip, and it was “not scary at all” to hunt such a huge animal. He even posed next to the animal that was hoisted above the ground by a tractor’s loader. The picture posted on Outwest Farms Facebook page has been shared over 4,000 times.

Some people have doubted the photo was real, Godwin told CNN, “There’s a lot of folks saying that, but it’s 100% real. I took that picture (referring to the photo of Mason laying on the alligator), the photo is real.”

American alligators are especially common in Florida and can range from 10 to 15 feet long. They live in freshwater environments, such as ponds, marshes and rivers.

The Florida state record for the largest alligator caught is 14 feet, 3 1/2 inches from Lake Washington, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee. That gator weighed in at 654 pounds but is not the heaviest on record. The record holder in Florida for weight is 1,043 pounds.

Outwest Farms has been in business for over 18 years and specializes in alligator and wild boar hunts. According to its website, a hunt for a 13-feet-long gator will cost you $10,000.

So what happens to the gator? Taxidermy, Lightsey says. Any meat that the hunter doesn’t take will be donated to charity.

More CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/05/us/big-alligator-in-florida-irpt/index.html