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Two albino alligators join Atlantis aquarium.

Dubai: Two rare albino alligators have joined over 65,000 marine animals at Atlantis, The Palm's The Lost Chambers Aquarium.

Still unnamed, the endangered species who came from a farm in Florida, are the newest residents at the aquarium and the first of their kind in the UAE.

Natasha Christie, Director of The Lost Chambers Aquarium, said the decision to add the rare reptiles to the aquarium was made after months of research and careful consideration. She explained that their genetic white skin colour gives them a truly intriguing appearance, and is the reason why they are often exploited.

The two reptiles, which would not survive in the wild, have been placed in a chamber equipped with special heat lamps, which give a temperature gradient of between 26-33 degrees Celsius.

"Our goal at Atlantis is to educate guests on different aquatic animals. By learning more about these fascinating reptiles, we can conserve this critically endangered species," said Christie.

Albino alligators are the rarest among their cold-blooded relatives and are only found in the USA's southeastern areas, such as Florida and Louisiana and in China.

While an alligator's lifespan is estimated to be 50 years or more, it is not the case with albino alligators. As a result of their genetic defect, albino alligators lack the ability to produce melanin in their skin, giving it a creamy white appearance. Their skin is said to be extremely sensitive to sunlight, and excessive sun can burn their skin, while their eyes usually cast a pinkish hue due to the visible blood vessels in the colourless irises. This lack of pigment, though viewed as beautiful, has its downside.

Most albino alligators rarely make it to adulthood because they are not able to camouflage themselves, making them an easy target in the wild. While myth has it that if you look into the eyes of an albino alligator it will bring good luck, the newcomers are now available at the aquarium for public display after they completed their quarantine period.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jul 23, 2015
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