On Wednesday morning, an escaped cow raised a ruckus on Interstate 10 out by Beltway 8 in southeast Houston, stopping traffic and leading a fella with a lasso to try to rope her in.
Oh, that’s just the beginning. A couple of hours later, a different animal—this one a big ol’ gator!—stopped traffic on the Fred Hartman Bridge in Baytown.
Was the gator trying to eat the cow?
That’s absolutely a legitimate question, but no. The two incidents happened in roughly the same part of the vast megalopolis that is greater Houston, but they were still almost twenty miles apart, and the cow was caught around 8:30 in the morning, while the gator didn’t get onto the road till closer to noon.
Oh, thank gosh.
Right? For a moment, it seemed like it might have been a real “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” situation here. We did not want to see what could’ve ended up on the highway to chase after the alligator.
Do alligators have natural predators?
Oh yeah. Jaguars and leopards love a good gator snack. Some giant snakes—your anacondas and pythons—will try to swallow a grown gator whole, too. Baby gators have it even worse. Predatory birds, or even the occasional feral hog, will snatch ’em up.
Now I’m sad about the baby gators.
Sorry about that! Here’s some better news: the I-10 cow made it home safely.
Was it the fella with the lasso who got her?
Alas, no. A law enforcement vehicle “shooed the cow up a ramp,” according to Click2Houston.com, at which point the lil’ gal got tuckered out and decided to take a nap on the lawn of the San Jacinto Funeral Home and Memorial Park. After her siesta, the cow was ushered onto a trailer and dropped off at the farm where she lives.
Are there a lot of farms and ranches in that part of Houston?
There are a couple. Not so many along I-10, but—while it’s not clear where this particular cow lives when she’s not running wild and free along the interstate—there are a handful of farms and ranches along Beltway 8 that she might have come from, all within a five-mile gallop of the spot where the bovine was ultimately found.
I’m so relieved! Now can we get back to the gator?
Absolutely! She’s fine too. Harris County authorities and Texas state police wrangled the gator with a basic slip-leash (which, full disclosure, she did not seem to enjoy, based on the video), and then proceeded to wrap the rope around the beast’s mighty jaws. At that point, she was wrestled into the back of a pickup, driven away from the bridge and back down to the water, and then set free, presumably to tell the other alligators that getting up on the bridge isn’t worth the hassle.
What’s going on today that we had two animals on different Houston highways?
Great question. Probably nothing? It is a full moon, but there isn’t anything that connects the two incidents—it’s just a neat coincidence.
This must’ve been one of the weirder days for escaped animals in Texas.
Buddy, not even close. There was a stretch back in 2019 when we saw multiple escaped kangaroos—kangaroos!—hop out of their pens at not one but two properties in the Hill Country. See this story about a giant missing pet sulcata tortoise found in West Texas in October 2019? That’s not the same giant missing pet sulcata tortoise that escaped from its family in North Texas that same week. You could drive around Texas, screech your brakes in front of a ninety-pound sulcata tortoise in the middle of the road, learn at a family’s beloved pet had gone missing in the state a few weeks earlier, and have the wrong tortoise on your hands. And let’s not even get started on the Galveston monkey.
Okay, so this sort of thing happens a lot?
It doesn’t not happen a lot, let’s put it that way. This is Texas. Sometimes there are just a lot of animals running loose. That’s certainly true in rural parts of the state where folks are more inclined to keep some unusual pets on their property (see again: kangaroos), but sometimes it happens in Houston too. We live in a wondrous state.