“Rare Albino American Alligator at Brookfield Zoo” by S.M. O’Connor

People visiting the Brookfield Zoo in west suburban Brookfield, Illinois will be able to see Snowflake, the sixteen-year-old albino American alligator, the Chicago Zoological Society (C.Z.S.) announced on Friday, May 17, 2019.  Snowflake will be at home in The Swamp habitat through September before he goes back south to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, a facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in St. Augustine, Florida.

In a press release, the C.Z.S. stated, “With their ivory-white skin and pinkish eyes, albino alligators would not survive very long in their native habitat of swamps, marshes, rivers, and lakes in the southeastern United States. Predators would easily find the young alligators because they are not able to camouflage amid their surroundings. Additionally, alligators bask in the sun to regulate their body temperature. However, an albino’s skin is very sensitive and can quickly burn. The sun also burns their eyes, making it harder for the albino alligators to see food and predators.”

The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), also known informally as the gator, is a crocodilian reptile that is native to the southeastern constituent states of the United States of America.  It is larger than the Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis), also known as the Yangtze alligator.  Adult males can grow to thirteen or even fifteen feet long, while adult females can grow up to about ten feet long.  The specimens in southern Florida are typically smaller.

Historically, the population of American alligators in the wild was severely impacted by hunting and habitat loss. The species was listed as endangered in 1967 under a law that preceded the Endangered Species Act (1973). With collaboration between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state government agencies in the South, the population recovered and the alligator was removed from the Endangered Species List in 1987.  They are now harvested in farms for their skins and meat.

d23e1d4e-e6dc-4bf2-928e-8f59c2e5d705Figure 1 Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: Snowflake, the albino American alligator, will be living in The Swamp habitat at Brookfield Zoo through September, after which he will be returning to the St. Augustine Alligator farm Zoological Park in St. Augustine, Florida.

bf51d222-7906-4249-9977-855f9cbeffbcFigure 2 Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: Snowflake, the albino American alligator, will be returning to the St. Augustine Alligator farm Zoological Park in St. Augustine, Florida.

25772c19-a5ae-4052-ae32-69d1103b6914Figure 3 Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: Albino alligators such as Snowflake are so rare that biologists estimate there are only around 100 alive in the world.

04fdaf41-92dd-4597-90a1-4c7783d26ac5Figure 4 Credit: Chicago Zoological Society Caption: In order for an alligator such as Snowflake to be an albino, both of his or her parents must carry the recessive gene for albinism.  Albino alligators do not have the ability to create melanin to give color to their skin or eyes.

 

Founded to realize the vision of Edith Rockefeller McCormick (1872-1932) for a cage-less zoo in Chicagoland, the Chicago Zoological Society operates the Brookfield Zoo on land that belongs to the Forest Preserves of Cook County (formerly the Forest Preserve District of Cook County).  Essentially, the C.Z.S. has the same kind of relationship with the Forest Preserves of Cook County that the Chicago Academy of Sciences,[1] the Chicago Historical Society,[2] The Field Museum of Natural History, the John G. Shedd AquariumJohn G. Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, and the Lincoln Park Zoological Society have with the Chicago Park District.   Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist John T. McCutcheon (1870-1949) served as the first President of the Chicago Zoological Society from 1921 to 1948.  Architect Edwin Clark (1878-1967), who also designed two homes for Mister and Mistress James Ward Thorne,[3] a library in a third home,[4] and the first twelve Thorne Miniature Rooms,[5] designed the original buildings for Brookfield Zoo in the early 1920s and early ‘30s.[6]  The Brookfield Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (formerly the American Zoological Association).  The Brookfield Zoo opened on July 1, 1934, so it will turn eighty-five next month.

The North Gate Main Entrance of the Brookfield Zoo stands at the intersection of 31st Street, west of 1st Avenue and the Des Plaines River.  It is east of Salt Creek.  The address of the North Gate Main Entrance is 8400 31st Street, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.

The South Gate Main Entrance parking lot is adjacent to Riverside Brookfield High School.  The Regional Transportation Authority (R.T.A.) has two different public transit methods that service Brookfield Zoo at the South Gate Main Entrance.  It is a four-block-long walk north from the Hollywood Station on Metra’s B.N.S.F. Railway line, which connects Chicago to Aurora.  Consequently, in good weather, families will ride the train and get off at the Hollywood stop to walk to the zoo.  That train station is also labeled the “Zoo Stop.”  Walk north for two blocks along Hollywood Boulevard.  Then turn right to walk east for one block along Washington Avenue.  Next, turn left to walk along Golf Road.  Two Pace bus routes also have stops outside the South Gate Main Entrance: Route 304 and Route 331.  The address of the South Gate Main Entrance is 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.  The Website is https://www.czs.org/Chicago-Zoological-Society/Home.aspx.

Founded to realize the vision of Edith Rockefeller McCormick (1872-1932) for a cage-less zoo in Chicagoland, the Chicago Zoological Society operates the Brookfield Zoo on land that belongs to the Forest Preserves of Cook County (formerly the Forest Preserve District of Cook County).  Essentially, the C.Z.S. has the same kind of relationship with the Forest Preserves of Cook County that the Chicago Academy of Sciences,[7] the Chicago Historical Society,[8] The Field Museum of Natural History, the John G. Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, and the Lincoln Park Zoological Society have with the Chicago Park District.   Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist John T. McCutcheon (1870-1949) served as the first President of the Chicago Zoological Society from 1921 to 1948.  Architect Edwin Clark (1878-1967), who also designed two homes for Mister and Mistress James Ward Thorne,[9] a library in a third home,[10] and the first twelve Thorne Miniature Rooms,[11] designed the original buildings for Brookfield Zoo in the early 1920s and early ‘30s.[12]  The Brookfield Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (formerly the American Zoological Association).  The Brookfield Zoo opened on July 1, 1934, so it will turn eighty-five next month.

The North Gate Main Entrance of the Brookfield Zoo stands at the intersection of 31st Street, west of 1st Avenue and the Des Plaines River.  It is east of Salt Creek.  The address of the North Gate Main Entrance is 8400 31st Street, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.

The South Gate Main Entrance parking lot is adjacent to Riverside Brookfield High School.  The Regional Transportation Authority (R.T.A.) has two different public transit methods that service Brookfield Zoo at the South Gate Main Entrance.  It is a four-block-long walk north from the Hollywood Station on Metra’s B.N.S.F. Railway line, which connects Chicago to Aurora.  Consequently, in good weather, families will ride the train and get off at the Hollywood stop to walk to the zoo.  That train station is also labeled the “Zoo Stop.”  Walk north for two blocks along Hollywood Boulevard.  Then turn right to walk east for one block along Washington Avenue.  Next, turn left to walk along Golf Road.  Two Pace bus routes also have stops outside the South Gate Main Entrance: Route 304 and Route 331.  The address of the South Gate Main Entrance is 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.  The Website is https://www.czs.org/Chicago-Zoological-Society/Home.aspx.

ENDNOTES

[1] The Chicago Academy of Sciences operates the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park.

[2] The Chicago Historical Society operates the Chicago Historical Society operates the Chicago History Museum in Lincoln Park.

[3] Susen Taras, “Thorne, Narcissa Niblack.” Rima Lunin Scultz and Adele Hast, editors. Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press (2001), p. 880

See also Sally Sexton Kalmbach, Mrs. Thorne’s World of Miniatures.  Chicago and New Orleans: Ampersand, Inc. (2014), pages 33, 42, 43, 114, and 115

[4] Kalmbach, p. 33

[5] Kalmbach, p. 47

[6] John T. McCutcheon, Drawn from Memory: The Autobiography of John T. McCutcheon.  Indianapolis and New York City: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. (1950), p. 423

See also Andrea Friederici Ross, Let the Lions Roar! The Evolution of Brookfield Zoo.  Chicago Zoological Society (1997), pages 18, 20-23, 25, 39, 95, 96, 98, and 228

[7] The Chicago Academy of Sciences operates the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park.

[8] The Chicago Historical Society operates the Chicago Historical Society operates the Chicago History Museum in Lincoln Park.

[9] Susen Taras, “Thorne, Narcissa Niblack.” Rima Lunin Scultz and Adele Hast, editors. Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press (2001), p. 880

See also Sally Sexton Kalmbach, Mrs. Thorne’s World of Miniatures.  Chicago and New Orleans: Ampersand, Inc. (2014), pages 33, 42, 43, 114, and 115

[10] Kalmbach, p. 33

[11] Kalmbach, p. 47

[12] John T. McCutcheon, Drawn from Memory: The Autobiography of John T. McCutcheon.  Indianapolis and New York City: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. (1950), p. 423

See also Andrea Friederici Ross, Let the Lions Roar! The Evolution of Brookfield Zoo.  Chicago Zoological Society (1997), pages 18, 20-23, 25, 39, 95, 96, 98, and 228

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