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Very rare albino alligator arrives in Illinois zoo

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An extremely rare alligator is making his temporary home at an Illinois zoo.

Snowflake, a 7-foot, the 16-year-old albino American alligator, arrived at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago the past week.

Snowflake, a 16-year-old albino American alligator, arrived at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago the past week.
(Kelly Tone/Chicago Zoological Society)

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Scientists estimate that Snowflake is one of approximately 100 albino alligators in the world, according to a press release from the zoo.

With the recessive gene for albinism from their parents, albino alligators are not able to make melanin to the colour of their skin or the eyes, making them white with pink eyes.

According to the zoo, albino alligators no good chances to survive in their natural habitat includes swamps, fens, rivers and lakes.

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The bright white skin of an albino alligator makes it easier for predators to find them and it is more difficult for the rare gators to camouflage itself. Their skin is also more sensitive to the sun — which alligators depend on to regulate their body temperature.

Scientists believe that there are only about 100 albino alligators in the world. The very rare crocodiles have a hard time to survive in their natural habitat, partly because of their white skin, which makes them easier to recognize by predators.
(Kelly Tone/Chicago Zoological Society)

Albino alligators’ skin can burn quickly in the sun and so can their eyes, which makes it difficult for the gators to see that their food and predators.

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Snowflake will be in the Brookfield Zoo’s “Swamp” habitat to September before he returned to his home in Florida in the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

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