In what feels like a holiday miracle, an extremely rare white leucistic alligator, with twinkling blue eyes, was born Thursday in Orlando, Florida.
Gatorland, the alligator park where the reptile was born, said in a press release that the baby gator is one of just eight known leucistic alligators in the world. It is also the first white leucistic alligator ever born in human care, according to the park.
"Oh boy, we have some exciting news here at Gatorland," said Mark McHugh, the president and CEO of Gatorland. "For the first time since a nest of leucistic alligators was discovered in the swamps of Louisiana 36 years ago, we have the first birth of a solid white alligator ever recorded from those original alligators."
"This is beyond 'rare,'" McHugh continued. "It is absolutely extraordinary!"
The adorable, cartoon-like creature is a female and was born at 96 grams and 49 centimeters long, alongside her normal colored brother to proud parents, Jeyan and Ashley.
The leucistic alligator is the most rare genetic variation of the American alligator, the press release said. It is different from an albino alligator, which has pink eyes, not blue, and a complete loss of pigment.
"Leucism in alligators causes white coloration, but they often have patches or splotches of normal coloration on their skin," the statement read.
While its white color makes it rare in the animal kingdom, the white leucistic gator is sensitive to direct sunlight and can burn easily, Gatorland explained.
The park's veterinarian has said the baby is doing well so far, and is successfully eating bite-size pieces of raw chicken and supplemental pellets.
The new gator is definitely a sight to see, but for now, she will be kept safe and away from guests so she can grow and develop normally, McHugh said. Gatorland expects to put her on display early next year "so guests can see them, learn about them, and fall in love with them like we have."
In the meantime, the alligator park is asking the public to help name the baby white gator, as well as her brother, by posting suggestions on Gatorland's social media pages.
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