In what feels like a holiday miracle, an extremely rare white leucistic alligator with flashing 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, Gatorland President and CEO. “For the first time since a nest of leucistic alligators was discovered in the Louisiana swamps 36 years ago, we have the first birth of a solid white alligator ever recorded from these original alligators.”
“This is more than ‘rare,'” McHugh continued. “It’s absolutely extraordinary!”
The adorable, cartoon-like creature is a female and was born weighing 96 grams and 49 centimeters in length alongside her normal colored brother to proud parents, Jeyan and Ashley.
The leucistic alligator is the rarest genetic variation of the American alligator, the press release states. It differs from an albino alligator, which has pink eyes, not blue, and a complete loss of pigment.
“Leucism in alligators causes white color, but they often have spots or patches of normal color 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 vet has said the baby is doing well so far and is successfully eating mouthfuls of raw chicken and supplemental pellets.
The new gator is certainly 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 display her 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.