World's rarest leucistic alligator was born in Florida park

Sunday, 07/01/2024, 16:31 (GMT+7)

The newborn leucistic alligator boasts its sparkling blue eyes and white scales, which was created by breeding methods.

Gatorland Park, an amusement park in Orlando, announced the arrival of a solid white hatchling with crystal blue eyes, making it one of only seven living leucistic alligators in the world. 

This extraordinary birth has captured the attention of people worldwide, sparking interest in this unique species and the conservation efforts being made to protect them.

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World's rarest leucistic alligator was born in Florida theme park. Image Credit: Gatorland

Birth of the Rare Alligator

The birth of this rare alligator at Gatorland Park has caused quite a stir in the media, with many people curious about this elusive and rarely-seen creature. 

The baby alligator was born alongside its normal-colored brother, weighing 96 grams and measuring 49 centimeters long. 

However, what makes this hatchling truly special is its sparkling blue eyes and pure white scales, which are not commonly found in alligators. 

Unlike albinos, who lack pigmentation, leucistic alligators have defects in their pigment-producing cells, resulting in their white scales. 

This condition is caused by a genetic mutation that affects the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for skin and scale color. This mutation is extremely rare, making the birth of this alligator even more remarkable.

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Rare alligator born at Gatorland Park features blue eyes and white scales due to a rare genetic mutatio

"This is the culmination of 15 years of work and research to finally produce a leucistic baby alligator at Gatorland," Mark McHugh, President and CEO of Gatorland said.

"This has only occurred a handful of times in the wild and never in the care of man," he added. 

"We are ecstatic about this birth because it opens the door for us to continue this rare genetic line for people to see, learn about them, and develop the desire to conserve and preserve American alligators." 

Unique Features: Blue Eyes and White Scales

Situated in Orlando, Florida, which is now home to three out of the seven known living leucistic alligators worldwide.

Leucistic alligators share similar eating habits and temperament with their regular counterparts. However, like albinos, they are susceptible to sunburn when exposed to direct sunlight.

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The baby leucistic alligator is 19 inches long from the tip of their nose to their tail at birth. Image Credit: Gatorland

Their distinctive light-colored appearance also makes them stand out, rendering them more vulnerable to predators. Nevertheless, apart from their unique pigmentation, leucistic alligators exhibit no significant differences from other alligators.

According to McHugh, the caretaker, this particular baby alligator is perfectly normal, aside from her striking white coloration and captivating dark eyes, which will gradually transition into bright blue as she matures.

Alligator breeding program

According to McHugh, Gatorland's alligator breeding program is "fully self-funded." 

The park's motivation for breeding leucistic alligators is because it is considered the "rarest phenotype or color variation of the American alligator."

Gatorland successfully raised two alligators with the leucistic gene, and they bred one of them with a normal adult male. 

This breeding resulted in the only white offspring ever produced from this particular rare genetic line.

"These are absolutely gorgeous alligators and we have been focused on ensuring this rare color phase continues for generations to see them and learn about them," McHugh said.

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The odds of the alligators having leucism as "one in a gazillion." Image Credit: Gatorland

In a statement to the Orlando Sentinel, Danielle Lucas, an employee at Gatorland, expressed her astonishment at the birth of the rare alligator, stating, "I felt like I was dreaming. It was surreal."

McHugh emphasized that the odds of the alligators having leucism as "one in a gazillion." 

He further explained, "This is probably the most significant event not only in the alligator world but in the reptile world as well, to produce a leucistic alligator. It's simply unheard of."

Gatorland reported that the baby alligators, born to parents Jeyan and Ashley, are thriving and have already started consuming supplemental pellets and pieces of raw chicken.