Spots, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas’ white alligator, has died, the Audubon Nature Institute said Monday. He was 28.
Spots had been under the care of the facility’s veterinary team. A necropsy will determine the exact cause of death, the institute said.
Collected from deep in a Louisiana swamp, Spots was part of a clutch of 17 infants recovered by Louisiana Land and Exploration Co. workers who were surveying the area in 1986. The group took some of the hatchlings to the Audubon Zoo, and Spots was relocated to the aquarium when it opened in 1990.
Spots was leucistic, having a rare genetic condition that reduces the color pigmentation in his skin. Out of some 5 million American alligators, fewer than 15 are thought to have this condition. As with all white animals, they are very vulnerable to the sun and predators.
“We have been fortunate to be able to experience the wonder of such a rare and beautiful animal,” Aquarium Managing Director Rich Toth said.
“Because of Spots’ leucistic condition, his chances for survival in the wild were practically impossible. We’re proud to have cared for him for more than 28 years.”