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Oleander, the Albino Alligator, Extends Stay at National Aquarium


National Aquarium - White Alligator

Due to popular demand, Secrets of the Swamp to remain open through April!

The National Aquarium in Washington, DC announced today that due to popular demand, they will be extending the stay of their albino alligator, Oleander, and the Secrets of the Swamp exhibit until April 29, 2012.

Oleander is an extremely rare albino alligator that was hatched in Louisiana and is a permanent resident of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park in Florida. Fewer than 100 of these extraordinary species exist worldwide due to the many environmental challenges that they face.

Albinism is a genetic lack of melanin pigment in eyes and skin, resulting in the alligator’s unusual translucent scales and pinkish eyes. Albino alligators are very sensitive to sunlight, and because of their inability to blend in with their surroundings, they create unwanted attention to themselves from predators. This leaves albino alligators with an extremely low survival rate in the wild.

Oleander came to the National Aquarium in Washington, DC, in October and was originally scheduled to depart this month but because of her tremendous popularity, the National Aquarium decided to extend her stay until the end of April.

“It seems that the public just cannot get enough of Oleander,” said Bob Ramin, Chief Development Officer of the National Aquarium and Executive Director of the National Aquarium in Washington, DC. “This additional time gives those who didn’t have the opportunity before to come in and meet her.”

Shortly after Oleander’s arrival, the public got to take part in naming her through a contest facilitated over their social media channels. Over 550 people participated in the naming contest. An oleander is a flowering shrub, native to Louisiana and the southern region of the US. In addition to sharing the same home state, this plant and alligator have very similar qualities: they are both unique and beautiful, yet they can both be dangerous.

The exhibit is free with the cost of admission to the aquarium. Public alligator feedings occur every Friday at 2:00pm. National Aquarium husbandry staff provides visitors with an educational lesson on the lives and habits of alligators and an up-close demonstration of how alligators are target trained to respond to colors in connection with their feedings.

Visitors can also see Oleander during Reptile and Amphibian Day on February 25th! This event will celebrate the many reptiles and amphibians at the aquarium, with activities, presentations and interactions. All activities are included with general admission to the National Aquarium in Washington, DC.