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May 11, 2016 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Old Blue Eyes Walks.

 Frank Sinatra talking to Rita Hayworth. Columbia Pict. "Pal Joey" movie trailer.1957(USPD: pub.date, no cr notice/Commons.wikimedai.org)

“Well, frankly, you think you can just bat those big blue eyes and walk out of here?”(USPD/Commons.wikimedai.org)

Troubled waters work just fine for some, but he was worried.

He gnashed his teeth. Thought it had all been arrange: transportation and luxury accommodations at a plush resort. Stupid flooding. Would others forced out of their homes get preferential treatment? He’d been promised. He had reservations.

He’d been misunderstood for a long time. People judged him by his color.

Desperate to get past their preconceived ideas, he stared unblinkingly.

Sitting very, very still. To the point people thought he was dead.

Even tilting his head so they could get a good look,  but few noticed his eyes were a beautiful blue, not red.

Alligator. Blanco face to face. Such blue eyes you have! (Houston Zoo)

“Mesmerizing, right? Should have copyrighted that “Old Blue Eyes” slogan when there was a chance.”(Houston Zoo)

Blanco is a leucistic by a genetic twist, not an albino.

Pale white with only a few brown beauty spots, the American Alligator came to the Houston zoo seeking protection from the harsh sun about 30 years ago.

One of the older zoo residents, he’s still got a good 20 years ahead of him and he’s always dreamed of seeing the world. ..the real one…outdoors. He had vague memories of his Pre-K years in a Louisiana swamp.

Sigh. No place like home – even if you have a huge fan base and wanted for nothing. Life in a gilded cage.

Elvis and Michael Jackson could identify.

Blanco greeted visitors from his indoor habitat at the zoo (Houston Zoo)

Got chicken? Rats? Cats? The 11 foot Blanco greeted visitors from his indoor habitat. (Houston Zoo)

It didn’t take alligator tears to convince the zoo that Blanco deserved to live as wild as possible, but he sunburned and would not survive in the swamp without help.

And nobody was volunteering to splash around behind him with a large beach umbrella and sunblock.

Not even interns.

Even before the Zika threat. No easy answer.

Alligator Blanco's smile. (Houston Zoo)

Could anyone walk away from such a handsome guy? He would sit like that for hours. Hours. Not blinking.(Houston Zoo)

Where there’s a will there’s a way. Gators need to soak and play.

Blanco now rises like a ghost out of the water in his own customize swamp at Crocodile Encounters which provides a special shade cover, deep pool for long swims, mud banks with weeds, and, most important, bullfrogs to chase.

The retiree has settled in and now enjoys early morning sunrises before the serious work of lounging

Without worrying about some little kid tapping on the glass screaming “Why doesn’t he move?”

Blanco enjoying the sunrise a few days ago on the banks of his new home(Crocodileencounter FB

Hey, like my new crib? Housewarming gifts appreciated. Chicken is always nice. (Crocodile Encounter FB)

Life is good.

Enough to make Old Blue Eyes new.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Go gaga for gators? Here’s more:

Alligator Blanco in his own deep pool. (Crocodileencounter FB)

Working on sneak attacks. A ghostly sight rising from the depths. Perhaps Hollywood will be calling?(Crocodile encounter FB)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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29 Comments

  1. easyweimaraner / May 11 2016 6:38 am

    poor Blanco… fame is eggs-pensive … you probably feel like Grumpy Cat or Mickey Mouse who wish to have one minute without fans and popularity…

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 11 2016 9:30 am

      Another good reason for a really deep pool and ability to breath under water. Luckily humans have such a short attention span. Thanks for trotting over to see the gator.

      Like

  2. Paul / May 11 2016 6:45 am

    That is so neat. I wonder how they came across him? Was he hatched in captivity? Do you suppose he stopped a passer-by and asked for sunscreen? Ha!

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    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 11 2016 9:33 am

      Actually a oil/gas company exploration team found him while on a site when he was very young and called the zoo thinking he was an odd albino and wouldn’t have a chance in the Louisiana wetlands. You may have solved the riddle about how they came across him in the first place….that and the smell of chicken sandwiches. Thanks for giving the gator a go

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kate Crimmins / May 11 2016 7:11 am

    He’d make beautiful shoes. Not for me of course (and hopefully not for anyone else). Wonderful story (except for the bullfrogs).

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 11 2016 9:36 am

      Would have been a highly prized accessory during that pale blue leisure suit era? Guess the previous inhabitants of that pond are getting up to speed – or else. Once the gator realizes he can go for the food rather than waiting for the caterer, life will be splashy. Thanks for leaving a biting comment

      Liked by 1 person

  4. roughseasinthemed / May 11 2016 7:23 am

    Needs a sunshade. Over his favourite spot. Just like Snowy’s over his chair.

    Incidentally he’s a darling. Gator, as well as Snows.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 11 2016 9:48 am

      Thought Snowy would give a paws up. The zoo had quite a bit of input on the construction of his habitat and I’m sure it is a boarding agreement situation. The gator place is only 20-30 min from the zoo grounds. Blanco was one of the most popular animals there (had nothing to do with the fact that you could go inside and see him in air conditioned comfort or in bad weather). I’m glad he’s given a natural spot outdoors – artists can create much, but it doesn’t smell the same or offer the same opportunities as real. There are all these awnings stretched across his habitat. Now you see those on many playgrounds and public pools for people. The sun here is a killer.
      The place where Blanco ended up started out as a “see the gator” carnival type, but has morphed into a refuge (they still do educational shows for children’s birthday parties) Hopefully Blanco’s rent, and him as a draw for tours will help them get the money they need to continue to create a good place for animals.
      No problems today, though, Blanco can enjoy the clouds and light rain. Bet he’s smiling. Thanks for crawling in with a comment

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ally Bean / May 11 2016 7:47 am

    Alligators of any color are creepy. That’s all there is to it. Happy this guy has a good home, but still… creepy.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 11 2016 9:50 am

      Visitors to the zoo used to think he was a stuffed animal. He’d just sit there motionless, staring. There was heavy glass, but he was huge and staring. Thanks for watching the gator get up and go!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. D. Wallace Peach / May 11 2016 8:05 am

    Blanco’s a beauty. Some people did right by him. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 11 2016 9:54 am

      Blanco is very beautiful with that coloring really showed off his texture and patterns. He was safe and adored inside the zoo, but seeing him enjoying life outside has got to show everyone moving him was for the best. Cheers for gator gaits. Thanks for trapping a comment for this basket

      Like

  7. Carrie Rubin / May 11 2016 9:08 am

    He’s actually quite pretty. Never thought I’d say that about an alligator!

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 11 2016 9:57 am

      Sometimes I think gators hold very still so you can notice and appreciate their lovely patterns and textures. Creatures like Blanco make you aware of all the variations within a single species. And he has those big blue eyes. Thanks for stopping by to gab about gators

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Tammi Kale / May 11 2016 11:02 am

    Gators and Crocs are among my favorite creatures….I really enjoyed this post!

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 11 2016 12:03 pm

      One of the first things we tell newcomers to the area is keep your cat up and the dog on a leash in the spring…and that may not be a log. Everyone has to learn to get along with the old time neighbors..even if wrinkled and walking slowly HA HA. Thanks for adding a splashy comment

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  9. Littlesundog / May 11 2016 12:47 pm

    I think he’s gorgeous. Looks like a giant rock from a distance.

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    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 11 2016 1:46 pm

      You’re right. He’s certainly boulder. Movie star quality. (Flipper watch out – there’s your competition) Thanks for rafting by with a comment

      Like

  10. Larissa Thomson / May 11 2016 5:43 pm

    Oh that’s fabulous, Phil! So glad to hear ol’ blue eyes won’t get sunburned any longer. A real catastrophe to have skin like that and not have anyone to apply lotion on it. We have an English friend like that – 2 minutes in the sun and he’s a lobster. Or an alligator, as the case may be.
    Glad to hear this happy “tail”!

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    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 12 2016 2:14 pm

      Blanco kept requiring a bigger and bigger habitat to be humane. There was just so much room indoors in the reptile house While everyone loved him, no doubt he’s happier in a real outdoor swamp, pool, and wetlands. He can peek out from under the awnings and trees to see the sky and sunsets. He may miss the air conditioning in August though. HA HA. Thanks for creeping over with a comment

      Like

  11. Jane Dougherty / May 12 2016 1:06 am

    I’m happy for this alligator, I really am, but this story sets me thinking why bend over backwards for what is essentially a freak of nature that wouldn’t normally survive, and treat perfectly healthy animals that ought to be in the wild, reproducing and populating their world, so appallingly? Not all zoos are equally bad, but many are dreadful, not to mention the theme parks and the other so-called spectator sport stuff like making horses do fancy footwork circuses etc. Sorry to use your post about one little success story to make a point, but I do feel strongly about these places.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 12 2016 8:31 am

      Feel free to worry. A large number of zoos are dreadful, grim, death warehouses.
      The Houston Zoo Would surprise you. They are a leader in animal welfare in captivity and in the wild. A big player in conservation efforts. Long ago they got rid of the “we must have one of every kind of animal on display” ideas and while not supported by city or state funds, only donations (Blanco brought in a great deal of money which helped other animals. But he’s retired now.), the zoo is constantly building large natural habitats with multiple species mixing as they would normally – even if it means limiting the animals and species. They are known for their research and through their efforts several species like the Attwater Prairie Chicken. ..and their research is taken into the wilds to insure the health of animals there. With only 300 or so Asian elephants left, their research with EHV is critical for preventing the illness from wiping them out.
      I do agree with you about theme parks, roadside zoos, and private ownership of exotics. Dreadful potential for disaster as I’ve written other posts about.
      Responsible refuges and wildlife parks are critical for research and raising awareness of the dangers from mankind animals in the wild face. The next generation needs to see what they will need to protect far far away and why it’s important. This zoo which constantly works with conservationists and returns many healed animals to the wilds has more than “one little success story”. Please come visit.
      It’s good to feel strongly about things. Only way change happens. Thanks for keeping an eye on the animals!

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      • Jane Dougherty / May 12 2016 8:49 am

        I understand the good work some zoos do, and I’m glad this is one of them. The pits are the roadside zoos and the circus menageries. But I’m always astonished at how many private individuals own exotic ‘pets’ like tigers and leopards. We seem to operate double standards for the keeping of animals in Europe anyway. You can’t take in an indigenous wild animal that you find injured or orphaned. They are supposed to go to animal refuges. But you can keep all kinds of animals that are wild in other countries. I don’t understand the logic or the ethics involved.

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        • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 12 2016 2:09 pm

          Awareness is slowly changing public opinions concerning viewing and owning animals that belong in the wild. County, city. state laws and ordinances vary, but most do not allow private ownership of exotics/animal collections around here. Insurance requirements and federal permits are quite costly also. There are always those who choose not to follow the laws (which usually ends up with owner/someone hurt). Drug dealers like exotics and big snakes as security guards. State laws here protect rights of alligators and other local animals to live in their natural habitats with homeowners having to adapt to having them around – or just move. Skunks and bats are an issue as in the past few years rabies has been around in those populations – but still you can relocate them or put up with them. Any hurt or orphaned animal must be turned over to permitted wildlife rehabilitators/permitted wildlife refuges/state forestry service…there’s always the tearful family that wants to keep the Bambi they rescued, but no.
          Each country has their own thoughts about animals wild and domestic. Some traditions are considered cruel by other countries. Tough battle being fought on those fronts. (And what’s with wanting ferrets, boas, and monkeys as pets? Seriously people get attention some other way. Animals are not accessories.) THanks for herding a comment over!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Jane Dougherty / May 12 2016 2:20 pm

          There’s so much coming to light about animal awareness that surely these attitudes will be seen as unhealthy and unacceptable one day. We can hope anyway 🙂

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        • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 12 2016 2:25 pm

          You might enjoy this video about one local turtle rescue effort. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICujqq71EgI
          We love our turtles!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Jane Dougherty / May 12 2016 3:13 pm

          Awwww!

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Jill Foer Hirsch / May 12 2016 12:33 pm

    I can relate. I am a really pale redhead, so I too had to curtail my swamp life. Even with sunscreen and an umbrella, I can only take so much. I feel Gator’s pain.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / May 12 2016 2:16 pm

      As kids we rarely got trips to the beach since my dad had that pale skin, too. I remember one time we did go and the tops of his feet burned so badly he couldn’t wear shoes. I’m with you and the gator – a nice porch is just fine for summer. Thanks for splashing down with a comment

      Liked by 1 person

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