Two albino alligators at a Florida animal park are the proud parents of 19 gator eggs, and park officials are hoping for a bounty of the rare white creatures.
The eggs were discovered this month at Wild Florida Airboats and Gator Park, about an hour's drive south of Orlando.
Gator parents Snowflake, a 25-year-old female, and Blizzard, a 14-year-old male, have been with the park since 2017. Park officials crossed their fingers for a possible mating between the two and got their wish when they noticed the gators' changing behavior going into mating season.
Soon, the reason became apparent: Snowflake was protecting her freshly built nest.
The gators face significant challenges in protecting their eggs. That's where Wild Florida's "Croc Squad" comes in.
Team members Andrew Biddle, Andrew Gilhouly, Christian Martinez and Adam West moved the eggs to a climate-controlled incubator to give them a better chance of hatching.
"Even though a really good mom, natural predators like fire ants raccoons will destroy alligator eggs all the time. Because they are really, really rare, we want to pull them and just ensure they get every chance they can to hatch out and be successful," Biddle said in a video on the park's Facebook page.
Florida's varied temperatures pose a threat to the eggs, as well. If it gets too hot or too cold, it can affect the incubation process.
The gator babies are also likely to be very small, and because of their pale, bright color, they are a beacon to predators.
"Without some proper human husbandry and care, they're not gonna make it out in the wild," said Sam Haught, a spokesman for Wild Florida. "We're doing everything we can to give each egg the best chance possible of survival."
Park officials say that with the incubator, the eggs' chances of viability jump from about 60% to about 95%.
The incubation period of alligator eggs is about 60 days, depending on the temperature. Once the lil' gators are born, the park does not plan to place the babies back with their parents.
"Albinos are super fragile when they're young. ... Anything will eat them. Albinos have really poor vision. They also get sunburned. Not to mention Blizzard, the male, is housed with the female," and he could eat them, Biddle said.
Haught said it's extremely rare for albino alligators to be born in captivity.
The park is hoping to launch an albino baby-gator exhibit if the hatching is successful.
"We're planning and dreaming up a brand-new, state-of-the-art exhibit that will allow guests to see these babies up close," Haught said.