An extremely rare white alligator has been born at a Florida zoo, with her carers telling Yahoo News Australia they are “over the moon”.
Because of the reptile’s distinct colouring, the team at Gatorland believe the young female could be worth millions of dollars to collectors, so they have increased security to keep her safe.
“She’s in a locked house, in a locked room, in a locked aquarium. No one can get to her. I think there’s only one key,” the park’s international ambassador Savannah Boan said.
“To us she’s priceless, but we’d never sell her ever. We just love her, we’re so excited. She’s just the coolest thing to see.”
Why is the alligator white?
Born in August, the alligator’s keepers kept her birth a secret until they were sure she was healthy. First pictures taken at Gatorland highlight her leucistic genetic variation which has caused her skin to be depleted of regular dark grey pigment and her eyes to gleam a brilliant blue.
Savannah first heard about the alligator’s birth when she was thousands of kilometres away in Australia, studying saltwater crocodiles.
“Everyone was crying and so happy. The idea that one has never been reproduced is the most amazing idea, it’s so crazy,” Savannah said.
“Even when I look at her now, she doesn't even look like a real thing. She's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life.”
More rare white animals
History of white alligators
The alligator’s parents are also leucistic, although her mother has regular colouring and is just a carrier of the gene.
They were part of a clutch of white alligators discovered by a fisherman in Louisiana 36 years ago. Because of concern they wouldn’t survive in the wild, they were distributed among several zoos and three were taken into care at the 110-acre Gatorland park.
The birth of the hatchling marks the first time a solid white alligator has been born from that group. The park’s CEO Mark McHugh publicly announced their birth on Thursday (local time) saying “this is beyond “rare,” it is absolutely extraordinary!”
Gatorland is currently running a competition on its social media pages asking wildlife fans to suggest a name for the hatchling.
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