Meet Snowflake, a Rare Albino Alligator Visiting Illinois Zoo

Playing Rare Albino Alligator Finds Tranquility in Safe Space at Illinois Zoo

Albino alligators are extremely rare. Biologists estimate there are only about 100 in the world. And one of them is making an appearance at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois.

Appropriately named Snowflake, the gator is 16 years old and measures in at 7 feet long. He just moved in at the zoo's swamp habitat and will stay there through September.

Albino animals come from parents that have the recessive gene for albinism. The condition prevents the animals from creating melanin to color their skin and eyes. That means albino alligators would not survive very long in their natural habitats of swamps and rivers. They can't camouflage in their dark surroundings with their white skin and pinkish eyes.

Alligators also like to lie in the sun to regulate their body temperatures. But those with albinism have very sensitive skin and can burn easily. The condition makes their eyes sensitive as well, making it hard for them to see food.

When Snowflake's stay is up at the zoo, he will move to Florida's St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

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