NEW ORLEANS - City Park in New Orleans is a 1,300-acre oasis, full of lush green spaces, recreational venues and lagoons.
It's also home to all kinds of wildlife, including a fair number of alligators.
"We live in southeast Louisiana, so there are alligators," City Park spokesman John Hopper said. "They're part of our environment."
Recently, a photo of a large alligator making a meal of a resident raccoon in City Park went viral.
Mark Springfloat walks his dogs in the park several times a week. He said he's not surprised or concerned by the gator sighting.
"Often times there's alligators and other critters in the water," Springfloat said. "That's part of the natural cycle of life. Everybody that lives here should be aware of that. I don't let my dog ever go in the water because of that."
Sean Fitzsimmons says he normally lets his dog swim in the lagoon, but not after a recent encounter with the large alligator.
"I took a couple of pictures of the alligator a couple of weeks ago," Fitzsimmons said. "It came up, right by my dog while he was swimming, so I've been really leery about letting him go in the water.
Fitzsimmons added the gator was 5 to 6 feet long.
Wednesday, there were about four alligators, approximately 2 to 4 feet long, swimming in a lagoon that runs along the Bayou Oaks golf course.
Landscaper Niles Reed said they get around the park through a series of drainage pipes.
"Sometimes they'll be on this side of the water, Reed said. "They may go across over here. They go through the tunnels."
Hopper, the City Park official said he's seen pictures of the large alligator and the park is already taking steps to remove it.
"We contacted (LA) Wildlife and Fisheries because Wildlife and Fisheries has an agreement, a contract with a licensed trapper," Hopper said. "The short answer is he's on it."
The alligator that killed the raccoon was spotted on the northwest edge of the Couturie Forest on a small island.
Park regular Theresa Kent said thankfully she hasn't seen the large alligator, but plans to watch her four dogs very closely while they're walking the trails near the water.
"It's scary, but (the alligators) are cool to see," Kent said. "We're not too worried, but we're going to keep everybody on a leash."
Hopper added there has never been an incident involving an alligator and a human at City Park.
He recommends you keep your dogs on a leash and don't let them swim in the lagoons. He also asks that you don't feed the alligators.
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