Wild Florida Air Boats and Gator Park has added a pair of rare albino alligators to its menagerie of native animals and exotics.
The 23-year-old female and 12-year-old male were born in Louisiana swamplands and acquired from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. It’s the first pair of breeding albino alligators in Central Florida and one of only about a 30 in the world, according to Sam Haught, co-owner and co-founder of Wild Florida.
“They’re incredibly beautiful to look at and seem to glow in and out of the water, Haught said. “There are several barriers to ownership. They’re really expensive and they need a custom-built facility that keeps them from sun and high temperatures. They have poor eyesight so the enclosure can’t have any sharp corners but must have enough room for the gators to navigate.”
The albino gators lack the pigment melanin. Their skin is an ivory white and they have bright pink eyes. They’re the offspring of two normal alligators that carry the recessive gene for albinism.
Albino gators stick out like a white beacon in the wild. Alligators’ normal green coloration help them disappear in swampy surroundings and albinos don’t survive long because they’re quickly eaten by predators. That’s why most are found as hatchlings and raised in zoos, alligator farms, and nature preserves.
The gators were not held in the same enclosure in St. Augustine so it’s their first opportunity to breed. Their climate-controlled exhibit comes with their own private pool. Wild Florida held a naming contest to name the pair but haven’t decided the winning names yet.
A 10-year-old albino gator named Pearl lives at Gatorland, just south of Orlando.
Wild Florida features lemurs, zebras, watusi, bobcats, sloths, and other exotic animals. It also offers air boat rides to the northern headwaters of the Everglades and ranch-buggy tours through the Doc Partin Ranch, one of the first cattle operations in Central Florida, The Chomp House Grill serves native specialties like gator, turtle, catfish, and frog legs, along with salads and burgers.
The Central Florida attraction has added free admission to its Gator and Wildlife Park for the remainder of 2017 to celebrate its seventh anniversary.
The attraction bills itself as “in the middle of nowhere,” but it’s only a 45-minute drive from Orlando’s major theme parks. Opened in 2010, Wild Florida is on Crystal Lake near Kenansville.