Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

13 Foot Gator at Colleton County Museum has new name

Wally is a she, and not a he.

The alligator at the Colleton County Museum and Farmers Market has a new name! The museum’s residing alligator, formerly named Wally, has been renamed Walleigh.

“We were surprised to find that so-called “Wally” is really a female, not the big old boy we at the museum presumed he was,” said Museum Director Gary Brightwell. And, because of this mix-up, the museum held a contest to rename the alligator. The entry that was chosen was thought up by Becky Broderick of Walterboro. She won a $25 gift certificate for the Museum Gift Shop.

The alligator was found in Sparkleberry Swamp in Sumter County by Richard Nance in 1986. Nance was boating in the swamp when he happened to look down into some shallow water and saw an alligator lying on the bottom. The gator had apparently been shot in the head a short time earlier. Nance immediately contacted the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the State Museum. With their help, the gator was removed from the water and sent to the museum to be stuffed and mounted. The museum’s alligator is 13 feet, four inches, and once weighed in at 685 pounds.

The gator later was relocated to the Colleton Museum, where it is still on display. When the alligator was moved from first museum location at the old Colleton County Jail to the current location, Brightwell asked for the assistance of local taxidermist Harry Hiers, who owns and operates Big Bear Taxidermy on Winchester Road.

“Gary asked me about moving it, and I dissected it into five pieces at the old jail, and put it back together at the new museum. It took close to a month off–and-on to get it back together.” Hiers added the work turned out well, where before he worked on the gator sewing seams were evident, and now they are completely concealed.

Hiers, who recently visited Sparkleberry Swamp, which is near Lake Marion just west of the I-95 crossover, said that he has also donated a large diamondback rattlesnake to the museum. He is currently working n another large canebrake rattler that he also plans to donate to the museum. He added that his work is not yet finished, and he has been working on the project for about two weeks.

I like giving to the museum, because it is also like giving to the community. The museum is an educational experience, and anything that helps the museum also helps us. I was born here and grew up here, and I would like to leave something when I go,” Hiers said. 

The Colleton Museum is free and open to the public on Tuesdays from noon until 6 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Farmers Market is open on Tuesdays from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.