An extremely rare albino alligator from the swamps of Louisiana is taking up residence in Washington, dazzling visitors with her brilliant white skin.
The three-year-old is the first of its kind ever to go on exhibition at the National Aquarium, home to more than 200 marine species from goldfish and frogs to pirahnas and sharks.
"There are less than 100 albino alligators in the world," Ryan Dumas, a herpetologist (amphibian and reptile expert) at the tourist attraction, told AFP on Thursday. "They are very rare."
Hatched in captivity in Cut Off, Louisiana after its egg was found in the wild, the ghost-like alligator with pink eyes came to Washington via the privately-owned Saint Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida.
"Local lore (in parts of Louisiana) is that it's incredible good luck to see an albino alligator," Dumas said, adding however that because of their color, few if any survive in the wild.
"A white alligator is going to have a very hard time keeping itself hidden in a dark swamp," said Dumas, because the lack of camouflage exposes hatchlings to predators or gives them away to prey.
The alligator, which dines on fish and rodents, will be on show from Friday until February next year, by which time -- through a Facebook campaign to be launched by the aquarium shortly -- it should have a name.
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