“Hey Boo Boo, let’s go get us a pic-a-nic basket.” – Yogi Bear

We’re all familiar with Yogi Bear and his picnic basket-stealing ways, but it looks like he might have some competition down in Florida.

University of Florida student Michael Tamayo and his friends were having lunch by a local lake recently when this sandwich-stealing reptile made an appearance. The group had become distracted while taking photos, and spotted the gator chomping down on their food as they turned back. They filmed this short clip of the raid before shooing the hungry animal back into the water.

Encounters like this aren’t as rare as you might think. According to UF researcher Dr Kent A. Vliet, who's been studying alligators for 35 years, a similar scenario played out a couple of years ago, also near lake Alice. “They learn really quickly, if they are at a proper operating temperature, they learn as quickly or more quickly than lab mice,” he says. 

There are an estimated 1.3 million alligators in Florida, but not all of them pose a danger to humans. "Typically, [juveniles] are not large enough to be a threat even to small pets," explains Florida Fish and Wildlife. "The mere presence of a small alligator is not cause for concern. When fed, alligators can overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food. When this happens, some of these alligators have to be removed and killed." 

In fact, feeding alligators is illegal in the sunshine state, so it's best to keep your lunch to yourself when possible.


Yop header image: Tiger Schmittendorf, Flickr