Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Meet Luna

After much anticipation and hard work, the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is opening its new albino alligator exhibit on Friday, May 29. Visitors to the Aquarium got a sneak peek at her in March during “Scales and Tails” when the Aquarium launched a naming contest. Community interest piqued and over 1500 submissions were received onsite and online, some from as far away as Germany and Scotland. County schools were invited to submit their entries as well. From Lilly to Allie and Pearl to Opal, Aquarium staff voted on their favorite name and Luna won!

Come meet Luna, the Aquarium’s newest resident. Aquarium staff will be on hand to answer questions and share the albino alligator’s story throughout the day every day.

The Aquarium acquired this rare jewel for its collection in February. Construction for her permanent home in the Cape Fear Conservatory began shortly afterward. Built in-house by Aquarium staff, the albino alligator exhibit features a deck and viewing panel. A six foot tall, stainless steel “phantom” mesh barrier surrounds the exhibit, although it is largely hidden by native vegetation. The animal and its exhibit were paid for by private funds provided by the NC Aquarium Society.

Obtained from St. Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida, this alligator originally came from a nest in Louisiana. Eggs taken from a specific nesting location resulted in a small number of albino hatchlings for many years. Although the parents weren’t white, they carried the recessive gene for albinism which resulted in approximately 25% of their offspring being albino. Left alone in the wild, the albinos would not survive. Less than 50 albino alligators are known to exist in the world.

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