Alligator Bites Down on Smoking Drone in Controversial Video Viewed Over 3 Million Times

Earlier this week, a TikTok user posted a video showing the moment a Florida alligator — referred to as "George" by the TikToker — caught and subsequently attempted to eat a drone.

The now-viral video has angered many viewers, and some claim they've reported the creator to local authorities. Though the TikToker says the incident took place in the Everglades, they claim it occurred in an area that is not controlled by the National Parks Service, where there is an anti-drone policy.

The video was posted by TikToker @devhlanger, and was initially broken into two parts. The first part, posted on August 22, shows George the alligator catch the drone mid-air and bring it down into the water. The video's captions read: "Trying to get a close up of this alligator in the Everglades ... wait till he chews through the drone's battery."

In the background, the creator can be heard screaming, "oh my god he's eating it," as the gator begins to gnaw on the drone. The video has amassed nearly 300,000 views.

The second part was posted Monday, with the description: "Part 2 of the alligator eating my drone." In this video, smoke begins to billow from George's mouth as he attempts to eat the device. The TikToker laughs as someone calls the alligator an "idiot," and another unidentified voice says, "Oh s**t we gotta get out of here."

The alligator is still alive and struggling with the drone as the video ends.

Because part two gained so much traction — 3.3 million views — the creator combined both parts of the video into one, and posted that to their page Monday as well.

"Videos combined," the captions read. "We were trying to get a close up of the gator with its mouth open and thought the obstacle avoidance would make the drone fly away (was only our second time using the spark)."

The creator further explains in the video's description that "George is doing fine and still looked hungry after."

The combined video has been viewed more than 122,000 times on TikTok and was re-posted to YouTube. That YouTube video has been shared by big names including Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet.

Sundar Pichai retweet
A screenshot of Sundar Pichai's Twitter profile shows that the Google CEO retweeted the alligator video. Sundar Pichai/Twitter screenshot

But much of the attention surrounding the videos has been negative.

Many commenters pointed out that drone use is illegal in Everglades National Park.

"No, drones and other unmanned aircraft are not allowed in the park, or any other National Park Service site," Everglades National Park says on its website. "This includes model airplanes, quadcopters, etc."

In 2014, Jeffrey Olsen with the Park Service told Public News Service that the decision to ban drones was made because it was apparent people lacked experience with the aircraft, and that lack of experience could lead to injuries.

"It's a new activity and park rangers in the field could tell people didn't have very much or any experience with these unmanned aircraft," Olsen told the outlet.

"These devices often crash, and if somebody is standing in the way when one crashes, people are going to get hurt. Drones have also been used to harass wildlife."

However, the TikToker claimed in the comments section of "part 2" that the incident took place outside of the national park.

"This is outside a national park ... this is on a tour ... I'm clearly filming the drone x flying the drone ... [it was] accidental ... direct your anger towards alligator farms."

A spokesperson for the National Parks Service (NPS) told Newsweek that there are areas of the Everglades outside of NPS's jurisdiction.

"Everglades can refer to anywhere in the Everglades ecosystem," they said. "Everglades National Park is 1.5 million acres and preserves about one-fourth of the original Everglades ecosystem. Other areas are managed by the state and other entities."

Each entity has its own rules surrounding drone use, and drones might be allowed in other areas of the Everglades.

NPS was unable to confirm where the incident took place, or if it occurred within park boundaries.

Newsweek has reached out to devhlanger and the Florida Fish and Wildlife's southern regional office for comment.

But Everglades National Park or not, viewers were upset.

"Thanks for making this savable," commented one user. "Forwarding it to Florida Fish and Game tomorrow when I see them."

"The fact that they're laughing at it," said Brendan. "Poor animal. Why would you fly that close?"

One user agrees that the incident is anything but comical: "Not funny at all the smoke comes from the lithium battery."

In the state of Florida, it is illegal to intentionally injure or kill, or attempt to injure or kill an alligator. Of course, the TikToker states in their comments that the incident was accidental.

Newsweek was not able to confirm if the alligator had been injured and/or killed.

alligator
Stock image of an alligator. A TikToker went viral after his filmed an alligator getting a drone in its mouth in a series of videos. Cindy Larson/iStock

Updated 09/08/2021, 4:33 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with statements from the National Park Service.