About forty-seven years of freedom in the muck, mud and swampy grounds and sewers along Decatur street, near police headquarters, an alligator was yesterday brought into captivity again, and is now a member of the zoo colony at Grant park.
In 1861 C.W. Hunnicutt, in those days one of Atlanta's progressive, leading and energetic business men, now a retired capitalist, was presented with a young alligator by a friend, who had brought the saurian direct from Florida for his Atlanta friend. Alligators were something of a rarity in those days, and the gift was valued highly by Mr. Hunnicutt. It proved quite an attraction, and for days its life in a large tube of water at Mr. Hunnicutt's place was something of a curiosity. The 'gator was then about six or eight inches long and weighted about two or three pounds. Frequently it was lifted from the tub and was allowed to crawl about on the floor, and even out upon the sidewalk, but at all times a close watch was kept upon the amphib. Fearing that he might [escape,] some one of Mr. Hunnicutt's employees one day, without his knowledge, planted a red-hot "H" on top of the 'gator's head, branding him like a Texas street. For months and months the pet enjoyed life as Mr. Hunnicutt's ward, but soon after the siege of Atlanta began he disappeared, and despite an exhaustive search for him was not again found.
During the day yesterday as workmen were tearing up the floor on 183 Decatur street, next door to the police headquarters, an alligator, measuring nearly five feet, and weighing a hundred and fifty pounds, was discovered in the mud under the old floor. George Drummond, owner of the building, was sent for, and after some trouble the 'gator was brought from his resting place, but not until after he had shown a disposition to contest with the workmen the right to move him from his bed. The alligator was full of life, and as he opened his long jaws, rows of large, ugly teeth were shown. An examination disclosed a mark upon the top of his head, but at the time nothing was thought of it. Mr. Drummond opened communication with the park board and was directed to send the alligator out to the aquarian section of the zoo. Returning to his office, Mr. Drummond related to those who were there what he had discovered. It happened that Mr. Hunnicutt was present, and as he heard the story he laid claim to the alligator, telling of his low away back in the '60's. A closer examination indicated that the mark on the head of Mr. Drummond's find might have once been an "H." The size of the alligator and its age, as judged by Dan Cary, of the city hall, induces the belief that the alligator found under George Drummond's Decatur street building and the one that escaped from Mr. Hunnicutt during the war between the states are one and the same. The George Ware, who is well-versed in alligator life, declares that he detected a recognition of Mr. Hunnicutt by the 'gator when Mr. Hunnicutt went down on Decatur street to take a look at it.
Anyhow, the zoo has now the largest alligator ever seen in Grant park.