Surreal specters of the swamp, the rare white alligators, at rest, look as though they are sculpted from alabaster. The eyes of the gators, with their baleful, unblinking stare, are shades of deep pink and fuchsia. When you draw near for a close inspection, you can see the pinkish-white skin at the edges of the scales. These ghosts from the bayou are true albinos, completely lacking in colored pigmentation.
The exhibit at the Dallas Zoo “Ghosts from the Bayou” features three of the albino alligators from the same family, raised in Florida. The setting of the exhibit is styled with the trappings of bayou culture; tin-roofed shacks and fisherman’s gear from the Everglades. There is also a whimsical touch: a “No Lifeguard on Duty” sign is posted at the edge of the alligator pool.
The star of the show is Boudreaux, a 200-pound, 9-foot long American Alligator. There is a reason for his unblinking stare: Boudreaux is blind, as are most albino alligators. But beware: his hearing is sharp, and he can sense minute vibrations with the receptors in his muzzle. With his keen sense of smell, he is alert to both food and intruders, and is quick to react to either. Boudreaux, despite his size, is only eight years old. Alligators can live up to 70 years.
Boudreaux shares his pool with three other alligators; females that have normal coloration. They can often be seen playfully nipping and tussling with Boudreaux or snuggling up to him as they rest on the dock. The pool is surrounded on three sides by an elevated boardwalk, where visitors can view the gators from only eight feet above the pool. The boardwalk offers many angles from which to view or photograph the gators. On the other side of the boardwalk are windows into other habitats featuring an albino bull snake, albino turtles (red-eared sliders), a poisonous cottonmouth, and a scary but harmless pine snake. Outside, in front of the enclosed exhibit, there is a habitat for the two younger albino alligators. The outside habitat has bay windows that
offer excellent viewpoints of the young gators.( Apparently, one of them can see: it responded to a wiggling finger by rearing up with its spiked-toothed mouth agape, as though ready to pounce gobble up its prey.)
The Ghosts from the Bayou exhibit is housed in the excellent Bird and Reptile Building, which has a large and fascinating collection of live birds, reptiles and amphibians.
Alligators in Dallas may seem like merely a phenomenon of the zoo, but alligators are actually native to the area of North Texas surrounding Dallas, especially along the Trinity River Watershed. There have been recent, documented sightings of gators in Dallas County. For related articles, click on the links in the Resources section below. There is also a link to an easy-view slide-show of the albino alligators, posted by the author, in the Resources section.
Albino Alligator Slideshow
Alligators Sighted near Dallas, Texas
Alligator Snapper Encounter