Alligator Named 'Darth Gator' Escapes From Zoo Enclosure at Feeding Time

The dramatic moment an alligator escaped from its enclosure during feeding time at a zoo in the U.S. has been captured on camera.

In a video uploaded to Facebook by the Fountain Valley Reptile Zoo in California, Juliette Brewer, the daughter of zoo owner Jay Brewer, can be seen sliding open a screen at an alligator enclosure to feed two reptiles some chicken from a plastic container full of meat.

However, things take an unexpected turn when one of the alligators, who is affectionately known as Darth Gator, leans over the ledge of the enclosure to try and get a better grip on the piece of chicken being offered to him.

"Don't think about it, don't think about it," Juliette can be heard saying between nervous laughs as the alligator begins to slide out of the tank and onto the floor in front of her.

Conscious of the large box of meat sitting close to Darth Gator, Juliet attempts to drag the container away from the reptile, who snaps at the box, just meters from her feet, breaking a small bit of plastic off in the process in a clear demonstration of his raw power.

Despite the ensuing chaos, Juliette remains calm, having spent much of her life surrounded by alligators and reptiles of this kind.

She also shares a unique bond with Darth, having raised him as a baby gator.

However, Darth has done a lot of growing since then and now weighs around 200 pounds and stretches 8.5 feet in length.

While she succeeds in keeping the other alligator, Gomer, fed and within the confines of their enclosure, Darth proves to be an entirely different story.

Eventually she is left with little choice but to call her dad for help.

"He has never fallen out for me before," she says down the camera before letting out an exasperated "Darth!"

She decides to Facetime her dad, who reacts to the sight of Darth running amok with bewildered bemusement, saying "what the heck is going on?"

At that point, Darth attempts to make a quick escape through the zoo with Juliette just behind.

Despite being upset at having to come out late at night on his day off, zoo owner Jay soon arrives on the scene and, after a few failed attempts, they succeed in lifting the alligator back into the enclosure.

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Footage of Darth's dramatic break for freedom was first posted on August 3. It has been shared more than 11,000 times with Juliette's laid back approach dividing many.

Rowena Allen branded the zoo owner's daughter "goofy" and urged her to "get a safer job."

Sheena M Bufford disagreed, writing: "I love how she was not afraid of him in the slightest and the dad was so chill and not mad at all."

Lisa Hartley, meanwhile, warned: "Now that the gator is big enough to be a threat they need a larger enclosure and a real handler."

Kimberly Leader, however, was full of praise for the video's human star, responding: "Great job Juliette....lots of work taking care of the zoo animals...."

By contrast, Venita Shermanw warned: "She keeps laughing and not trying to hurry and feed them, they are out of patience. She should not be anywhere near them. One of them bites her and she won't be laughing."

Jenna Inclema disagreed: "She stayed calm, didn't panic, and waited for help to arrive, she replied. "Running away or freaking out like everyone wants her to do out of "respect" or "seriousness" would have been the worst way to handle the situation. Glad they got him home safely, and he seemed happy to be back."

First founded in July 2009 as a spin-off from their Prehistoric Pets store, The Reptile Zoo houses amphibians, arachnids and reptiles. While some come from private collections, many of the zoo's animals were born there or brought to the facility as rescue pets.

Newsweek has reached out to The Reptile Zoo for comment on their viral gator escape.

An adult alligator with their mouth open.
A file photo of an alligator. A reptile of a similar description was filmed escaping from its enclosure. unclegene/Getty