The legend of Audubon's ethereal white alligators continues with the discovery of two rare, blue-eyed leucistic white gator hatchlings which are debuting at Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans.
These unusual gators are settling in at their new home in the Louisiana Swamp exhibit of the Insectarium, located at 423 Canal Street.
“So many people from New Orleans grew up with the original clutch of baby white alligators,” said Ron Forman, President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute, which operates Audubon Insectarium and nine other New Orleans-based attractions and facilities. “Now we have some new babies for today’s kids to enjoy. The white gators are indelibly identified with Audubon and New Orleans. It is our privilege to share them with all our Insectarium visitors, whether they are from around the world or around the corner.”
The legend of Audubon’s white alligators begins back in 1987, when 18 white hatchlings were discovered by a fisherman near Houma, Louisiana. The gators have been ambassadors for New Orleans not only at Audubon Zoo, but across the country and around the world. Today, a few of these large white gators from the original clutch can still be seen at Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.
In 1994, another discovery yielded a lone female hatchling near Venice, Louisiana.
Now, 22 years later, found only a few miles from the original clutch, the two young gators exhibited at Audubon Insectarium are only the third occurrence of leucistic alligators ever caught from the wild.
“We are so happy to share these unbelievably rare creatures with the public,” said Karyn Kearney, managing director of Audubon Insectarium. “No one who encounters these
alligators will ever forget them. That’s how special they are.”
The young gators are special because of their condition, known as leucism. It’s a form of partial albinism that has been seen from time-to-time across the animal kingdom, especially in birds and reptiles.
“In a true albino, there is no pigment at all. But our new gators retain some pigment, causing them to have beautiful blue eyes,” said Jayme Necaise, director of animal and visitor programs at Audubon Insectarium. “They are a stunning addition to our Louisiana swamp area.”
For everyone who sees them, these remarkable animals are emblematic of the charm and magic of Cajun folklore, reminding all of the old adage that white alligators foretell only the best of luck. Does this latest auspicious discovery bode well for a certain New Orleans football team that seems to be on a roll right now?
Only time will tell….
Audubon Insectarium is the newest facility of Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, which operates Audubon Zoo, Audubon Park, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy IMAX Theatre, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, Freeport McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, Wilderness Park, and the currently-closed Audubon Louisiana Nature Center. For more information, please visit Audubon’s website at www.AudubonInstitute.org
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