An alligator name game

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

If you’ve been in Brunswick County long enough, you probably realize by now that alligators aren’t exactly welcome sights.

That’s because they usually arrive unannounced in your backyard pond, halfway up the steps of your house or on the 9th fairway as you’re trying to sink a golf ball or walk your dog, as many locals have discovered.

They can move quickly and snap their jaws around things even quicker. People with pets need to be especially careful. The key, wildlife officials say, is not to feed them or they will expect food every time they see a person.

But safely housed at places like the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, these cold-blooded creatures aren’t quite so bad. And they are regularly fed by trained professionals.

According to its Web site, the Fort Fisher aquarium recently added a “new, rare jewel” to its menagerie: a female albino alligator. The 4-year-old reptile is 5 feet long and weighs about 23 pounds, the aquarium reports.

Now, she just needs a name.

The aquarium is asking the public to come up with an appropriate name for their newest friend, and you’re invited to submit your entry online at www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher/i-need-a-name.

Aquarium officials will announce the winning name at the opening of the new albino exhibit May 29. Each person may vote once.

The lack of melanin, or pigment, in the skin of albino alligators results in their milky skin and cloudy eyes, which appear pink due to highly visible blood vessels.

Albino alligators don’t last long in the wild. Most are eaten by predators before they reach adulthood. Some are raised in captivity, but they are still a rare sight compared to the wild kind. Places like zoos and aquariums make good homes for them.

Over the years, with the proximity of nature lovers, museums and aquariums to Brunswick County, I’ve seen albino turtles, albino snakes and all sorts of weird creatures. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen an albino alligator in person before.

They are rare, so I think this little aquarium “jewel” deserves a unique name. How about “Tallulah” or “Delilah?” Or maybe something a little more special, like a name with “Lady” or “Queen” in front of it.

How about slipping a Brunswick County reference into the name somehow, to keep our community in the public eye? Winnabow Wilma? Sadie Supply? Mrs. Calabash?

Feel free to use your imagination on this one.

I like this idea, and I encourage our local tourist attractions to keep these contests coming. Most of us enjoy coming up with names for people, places and even “critters” like albino alligators.

It takes our mind off the alligators that could be lurking outside.