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Beloved Ponchatoula gator being 'retired'; owner plans to build new habitat

9 months 3 weeks 2 days ago Sunday, February 12 2023 Feb 12, 2023 February 12, 2023 11:00 PM February 12, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

PONCHATOULA - "Our beloved Hardhide is saved!" said Mike Kliebert after community fear that a beloved local gator would be put down. 

After officials with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries told Kliebert the best thing for the gator would be to euthanize her, as she could not be released into the wild, Kliebert said on Facebook that Hardhide would be "retiring" into her natural habitat on privately-owned land. 

After Hardhide undergoes a health evaluation, she will be clear to spend the rest of her days in some peace and quiet. 

However, Kliebert said this isn't the end of the gator's legacy.

"Through discussions with our Mayor, Dr. Bill Wheat, and wildlife this is not the end of the Hardhide era," he wrote. "We are planning to exhaust all options to build a new exhibit that is in compliance and meets all the requirements of wildlife and fisheries for future generations to enjoy the historic value of an alligator in our town."

Kliebert thanked the city, the parish and Hardhide fans "all around the world" for supporting the gator, who is just as much a part of his family as any dog.

Many in Ponchatoula say they have fond memories of Hardhide, including Tyler Kinchen and Stephanie Medina who spoke briefly with WBRZ. 

Kinchen believes Hardhide leaving is a great chance for the city to find new traditions. 

"If we're having it for tradition, we should have something that can represent this community. It doesn't have to be an alligator," Kinchen said. 

But some, like Medina would like a new gator as long as it is taken care of. 

"We have seen it since we have grown up and if it just goes away, it would be a wreck," Medina told WBRZ. 

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