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Spots, rare white alligator, dies at 28

Gator has rare genetic condition that reduces color pigmentation in his skin

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(Courtesy: Audubon Nature Institute)

NEW ORLEANS – Spots, the white alligator at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, has died at the age of 28, the Audubon Nature Institute announced Monday.

"We have been fortunate to be able to experience the wonder of such a rare and beautiful animal," said Audubon Aquarium of the Americas Managing Director Rich Toth on Facebook.

According to the Audubon Nature Institute, Spots was part of a clutch of 17 infants recovered by workers from the Louisiana Land and Exploration Company while surveying a deep Louisiana swamp in 1986, WDSU-TV reported.

Spots was brought to the Audubon Zoo when the Aquarium opened in 1990. He had a rare genetic condition that reduces the color pigmentation in his skin.

The Audubon Nature Institute said out of the 5 million American alligators, there are believed to be less than 15 gators with the same condition. Spots was vulnerable to the sun and predators, as with any other white animals.

"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," Toth said.

Officials said Spots was under the care of an experienced veterinary team at the Aquarium. Results are pending to determine his exact cause of death.

"The Audubon family will miss the beloved alligator and welcomes your condolences to the animal staff, who are especially saddened by this loss," the Audubon Nature Institute said.