It takes eight wranglers to force a 200 kilogram alligator in its most aggressive state away from a well-guarded nest of eggs, but they need to be taken to ensure their survival.
This is an annual process at the Australian Reptile Park on the New South Wales Central Coast and this year, Ally the alligator has set a record by laying 60 eggs overnight.
“She’s our biggest female in the park, she’s chosen this site, she’s the first one to lay because she’s the dominant matriarchal female,” the park’s Tim Faulkner said.
Once the wranglers lured Ally away from the nest, three of them jumped on top of the reptile to restrain it.
Ally’s nest was meticulous, with eggs buried in several layers — a process which has lasted since the dinosaur era 180 million years ago.
“Alligators are from a much more temperate environment [in Florida] than here on the Central Coast,” Mr Faulkner said.
“Those eggs will overheat today and every single egg will die, so it’s really critical that when we know they’re being laid that we get in there and remove those eggs.”
Retrieving the eggs also protects the newborn alligators once they have hatched from other members of their clan that would happily eat one.
Once they have been retrieved, the eggs are incubated at varying temperatures to determine their sex. They will hatch in about 70 days.
“They haven’t started incubation yet, so that means there’s just a tiny little blood vessel in there,” Mr Faulkner said.
“With the young ‘gators we have to grow them up for about five years — like humans, alligators can live to over 100 — then we can put them back into this lagoon.”
It is estimated that only one in 1,000 alligator eggs survive to become mature adults in the wild.
After the eggs were retrieved, Ally returned to guard and warm the nest not knowing that they had been taken — something the animal will do for two months.