Extremely rare white leucistic gator is born in Florida theme park

ByForrest Brown, CNN, CNNWire
Thursday, December 7, 2023
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An extremely rare - and extremely cute - leucistic white alligator has been born at Gatorland, the Orlando park announced Thursday in a news release.

Just how rare are we talking about here? Well, Gatorland said it's the first white leucistic gator born in human care. And as far as the park knows, it's only one of eight in the world.

"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," Mark McHugh, president and CEO of Gatorland, said in the release.

As for the "gender reveal," the new baby is a female and weighs 96 grams (3.39 ounces) and is 49 centimeters (19.3 inches) long. She looks as much like a lizard as an alligator.

Her parents are named Jeyan and Ashley, and she was born along with a normal-colored brother of the same size.

What are lecuistic white alligators?

You might be thinking this baby looks like an albino gator. And while the appearances are similar, they're not the same thing.

"Leucistic alligators are the rarest genetic variation in the American alligator. They differ from albino alligators, which have ... a complete loss of pigment," according to the news release. "Leucism in alligators causes white coloration, but they often have patches or splotches of normal coloration on their skin. Without the darker skin pigmentation, they can't have direct sunlight for long periods of time because they sunburn easily."

Leucistic and albino alligators also have different-colored eyes, Gatorland and the Audubon Nature Institute said. Leucistics sport brilliant blue eyes while albinos have pink eyes. The institute describes them as "ethereal, ghostly and, most frequently, beautiful."

Gatorland's veterinarian has given them "an A+" on their health. The little darlings dine on tiny pieces of raw chicken and Croc Chow pellets.

When can the public see them?

The park hopes to have the new additions on display early next year. "For now, however, we continue to keep them safe where we can closely monitor their health and growth," McHugh said.

If you want to help name the new arrivals, you can go to the park's social media accounts on Facebook, YouTube, X (formerly Twitter) or Instagram to make your pitch.

While this white baby alligator is very rare, as a whole, the American alligator population is doing quite well. Once endangered, they now number around 5 million, with the largest populations found in Florida and Louisiana.

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