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The Man Who Found Living Proof of Billy the Kid for Just $2

Shannon Jackson

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Randy Guijarro is a former military vet that has been happily married to his wife Linda Guijarro for decades. He has avidly collected antiques and collectibles for as long as he can remember. Linda loved collecting with him and even when they gathered a bit too much moving into their newlywed home, she stuck by him and helped him lower his inventory so that he could start collecting again. 

His mother sometimes called him “The Hoarder.” Many of his collectibles came in the form of cars, or dressers, or unusual artifacts, but what he is really known for is collecting old historic pictures. Yet, he still had a close bond with all of his family and they spent lots of time together laughing and enjoying Randy’s latest finds. 

If you asked his wife Linda, she might have said at one time that it was too much and bordering on the line of hoarding. When they moved into a new house, Randy promised Linda that he would stop collecting things. First, he would empty out their spare bedroom of what they already had, and then they could start collecting again, but he was out for a drive one day and a store was calling to him. He couldn’t explain why. 

Randy had always believed in hard work and going after what you wanted. Yet, if you asked his mother, she would tell you that Randy was a natural-born magpie or a collector of shiny objects. As the youngest in a family of six, Randy could be found bringing home shiny objects from the streets and scrapyards as young as the age of seven. He took pride in all of his treasures–even the dull ones.

Perhaps, when he met a friend for coffee in the Fresno Tower District in 2010, he felt guilty for stopping into Fulton’s Folly Antique Collective. He had promised both his mom and wife that he would not continue to hoard objects that many of his family members considered junk–even though he was able to scrape together a respectable living out of these things that others called junk. He promised himself that he would be in and out in just ten minutes. 

He wandered through the antique store exploring and picking up several objects from Mary Poppin’s bags to swords to depression glass. He was hooked. He found a lot of treasures and wanted them all. Then he remembered his promise to his sweet wife Linda. He put everything down and went to one final room in the maze of collectibles. 

Randy kept his composure until he got to that back door and noticed two men shaking hands while negotiating a wall of boxes that were for sale. They were working with a limited amount of time from the buyer and it would be next to impossible to inspect each box. So he mustered up some courage to ask if he could take a look at some of these unknown treasures. Finally, he decided to walk away with only one box in this blind buy. He had the feeling that he was about to pick up a box that would change his life. When he bought his choice picture for $2, he didn’t know what to think–but he had a good feeling. 

Randy was pretty sure that this was a hidden gem, and he had just escaped with a very valuable 4×5 inch tintype photo of some men playing croquet with each other out in New Mexico. If this photo was who he suspected it might be, not only would he come across a possible windfall of money, but the chance to rewrite history. What we knew about an infamous Wild West icon that became an outlaw would be a momentous discovery, if everything was true that he believed. 

When he took home the picture to Linda his wife, she was angry. She immediately demanded to know how much he paid for the photos. After he told her $2, she asked him if he knew who this was a photo of. Linda was no longer angry once she found out what he paid for it–rather she was blown away. Because at first glance she suspected exactly what it was, this was a picture of Billy the Kid and the Regulators playing croquet! How could he have gotten this picture so inexpensively?

At first, everyone that he showed the picture to seemed to shrug him off and told him it was probably a fake. How could something like that end up in his hands for just $2?  Randy and Linda knew that they were on to something, so they began their search which would take over five years. When they visited the property that they thought Billy and the Regulators were playing croquet at, they became very excited. It looked like a match.

During their five years of trying to identify where this was and who the house belonged to, they came across a lot of new information. That house that they were playing in front of was confirmed by a diary of a young lady named Sallie Chisum. Her diary included reports of a cattle run and the landscape. Sure enough, this seemed to be a match, but there was still work ahead. 

Sallie Chisum was said to be a good friend to Billy the Kid and the Regulators and there are alleged rumors that they were even lovers at one time. In Sallie’s diary, the picture was taken just a month after the brutal Lincoln County war battle. Everyone sure seems awfully relaxed, too, including Sallie who is in the picture, too! It is rumored that the building is just a 15-minute walk from John Tunstall’s home. The party was there celebrating a wedding.


Since this was only the second photo in history to be found of Billy the Kid, it was under a lot of scrutiny. The first photo was taken in 1880, a year before Billy the Kid was killed, and sold in an auction to William Koch for $3.2. Randy’s photo was taken in 1878 just a month after the battle of Lincoln County.

When you look close up at the 1878 photo that Randy had found, you’ll see an unbelievable relaxed 19 year old kid playing croquet in a sweater with a smirk on his face. Just a month before they had been in a major battle and now they’re playing croquet on John Tunstall’s property!

Randy’s photo was taken in 1878 and included several of the Regulators along with Sallie Chisum. This photo piqued the interest of local film and TV producer Jeff Aiello. He was willing listen to what Randy and Linda were saying and delve deeper into the history of this photo. After a month of researching with his wife, they were in agreement that this was The Kid. 

Eventually National Geographic took interest in the photograph and made a documentary called, “Billy The Kid: New Evidence.” Facial recognition was used to compare the first original picture of Billy the Kid to the one of him playing croquet. Examinations determined that it was a 70% match. The broader view of the whole gang playing croquet also enabled them to determine height of the players when compared to the height of the croquet sticks. 

After Aiello and his wife researched the photograph, National Geographic supplied funds for further research to show that it was a genuine photograph. They developed a 2-hour special and even managed to pick up Kevin Costner as the narrator. Together the team continued to work on proving its authenticity. Randy and Linda had almost thrown in the towel at several points but they were finally getting somewhere. By the end of it all, even Costner himself told the Guijarro’s that he believed. 

It’s no wonder that on the last filming day that Linda could be found having a nice cold one in celebration. And also to just take a long needed break from all the fighting and scrutiny of the picture’s authenticity. 

The whole team learned a lot about the timeline of how things happened when they looked further into the details. On February 19, 1878 Billy and Fred Waite went to serve a warrant for the death of their boss John Tunstall with Constable Atanacio Martinez. All three were thrown in the slammer by Sherriff Brady but Martinez was let free. Billy the Kid was left in jail with his good friend and forced to miss Tunstall’s funeral. So the rumors that Billy the Kid swore vengeance at Tunstall’s funeral were proved false. Furthermore, his anger towards Brady only increased when he was not able to send off his good friend.

Billy the Kid fought on  John Tunstall’s side and Fred Waite was an employee of John Tunstall’s that also joined The Regulators against the Irish monopoly on grain and cattle that later became known as The House. After Fred Waite and Billy fought in the Battle of Lincoln County, their plan was to move ahead and become ranchers on their own accord in Lincoln County, New Mexico. It was an innocent dream of living a much easier life without so much fighting. The war was about breaking up a monopoly on the cattle ranching business and they hoped that their support would mean a beautiful future for all of The Regulators. Pictured is Fred Waite.

By late 1880, Lincoln County’s new Sheriff Pat Garrett had tracked The Kid to Stinking Springs, New Mexico. He escorted him back to the Lincoln courthouse where he was charged with the murder of Sheriff William Brady, whom Billy fought against in the Lincoln County battle. Incidentally, another image has popped up of Billy the Kid and this one is said to have Sheriff Pat Garrett in it with him because they were friends and fighters together. Billy is the second to the left and Garrett is the far right. 

While William(Billy the Kid) Bonney was in jail for the second time, he wrote a letter on March 21, 1881. Although it is not in the same type of format that we are used to, remember that Billy the Kid was orphaned at a young age and had to live on the streets as an outlaw committing petty crimes since he was 14 years old. Just the letter alone sold for $32,000. 

The letter reads:

Santa Fe New Mexico

March 21st .81

Gov: Lew Wallace

Dear Sir

Time is short now. Will you meet me as you promised. Please respond by return bearer. I ask for a few moments. Time is short.

Yours

WH Bonney

“Will you meet me as promised,” may indicate that the Governor and Billy had already discussed a prior meeting. 

Billy the Kid was scheduled to be hanged on April 28, 1881, but he escaped jail on a trip to the outhouse and shot two deputies while doing it. Once he was armed, he took off all his cuffs with a pickaxe, which was unheard of at the time. It is believed that he rode away on a horse singing after arming himself with one of the guards double barrel shotguns. What a brazen image!

The news of this escape traveled fast and Billy the Kid became one of the most wanted men of his time. Although some say that he robbed banks and trains, none of this is true. His tale was not one of a robber or thief. What he was wanted for was nine murders that were the result of the Lincoln County battle. Some even hypothesize that he may have killed as many as 21 men. It’s hard to say what really happened all of those nights in the Wild West.

Billy escaped his hanging date and spent several months hiding out and taking room and board with locals of Fort Sumner, New Mexico that were sympathetic to his cause. Although he tried to keep a low profile, he may have taken his freedom for granted. On July 14, 1881 Sheriff Pat Garrett rode into Fort Sumner looking for The Kid at Peter Maxwell’s house. As soon as Maxwell answered the door, Billy was approaching to purchase some groceries for a late night dinner. He really never suspected to see his one-time friend’s silhouette in the door. He drew his gun and yelled, “Who’s that?” in Spanish. He asked one more time and drew Garrett’s attention. 

The Kid entered Maxwell’s dark bedroom where he saw Garrett hiding in the shadows. The Kid again yelled in Spanish, “Who’s there?” Garrett recognized the voice as The Kids’ voice right away even though he was speaking a foreign language. Garret who had already adjusted his eyes to the dark, pulled out his six shooter and fired off two rounds. Billy the kid was struck near his heart and died instantly. Ironically, the man that had helped the Regulators fight off the tyranny of The House had been the demise of a one-time notorious friend, Billy the Kid.

Linda and Randy still haven’t stopped their love for antiques and you can find them on eBay under the name codeblue13  where they have been members since 2002. You may find all kinds of antique photos and relics on their webpage. All of their reviews are positive, and they only put something up for sale if they are absolutely sure that they know what they are dealing with. It’s worth taking a look at, especially considering that they had this shop open 8 years before they ever even found the photograph of Billy the Kid and The Regulators playing croquet.

Randy and Linda worked hard to have a happy ending to this one-of-a-kind find. Never in a million years would they have guessed that it would take five years to positively ID Billy the Kid. Now they’re able to sit back and enjoy life with a photograph that is insured up to $5 million and continue doing what they love most; spending time with their sons and daughters and grandkids, boating, and collecting antiques. What a sweet happy ending for such a sweet couple!

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Amazing

The Champion Taco-Eating Pit Bull

Kelly Taylor

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My neighbor Jose had just adopted a special pit bull from the local rescue shelter. It had been the faithful companion for five years of Jose’s elderly friend who had passed away a few months earlier. Because pit bulls have a bad rap, nobody wanted the dog, so the shelter planned to put it to sleep. When my neighbor learned that his friend’s faithful companion was about to be killed, he immediately adopted the dog. I don’t know about cats having nine lives, but that dog definitely got a second life.

That dog went everywhere with Jose. The dog’s name was Lucky, but Jose made a point of calling him something like “Lu-key.” Jose even got that large pooch service-dog certified, which meant he could take that dog into the supermarkets and even into the county fair.

Last July, I was assigned to judge the taco eating contest. A few months later the county fair started. Somehow Jose managed to get Lucky into the fair on my judgment day. According to him, the ticket office at first refused to let Lucky the service dog go in, because of all the other animals there. So Jose was sent to the exhibitor’s entrance, where the fair’s president was. After the president argued with Jose a bit, he was left at the gate with Lucky while the fair officials argued about what to do. During that time, exhibitors with other dogs, cats, pigs, and birds of all kinds, came into the fair through that same gate. Lucky looked at those other animals but did not budge from Jose’s side. Not a sound came from him, though other animals sometimes made a racket. The president noticed that and then decided to let Jose and Lucky conditionally come in; Lucky was in no way to disturb the other animals, children, or people.

A local guy named Walt came to the taco eating contest as a participant, not letting his wife know. We had TV-like tables set up with fifteen Mama Juanita’s Taqueria soft-shelled chicken tacos on each one, the best tacos for hundreds of miles. The contestant who at them the fastest won the contest. It happened that Jose and Lucky were the closest to Walt’s table.

Well, no sooner had I blown the start whistle than Walt’s wife screamed out his name, “Walter Higgins! Get over here!” At that shout, he jumped up and bumped over his table filled with tacos, in front of Lucky. Walt then bolted away from that area as fast as a rooster with its tail feathers aflame. Well, Lucky apparently felt lucky, so he jumped the few feet needed to get at all those tacos on the ground in front of him and started gobbling them down. It wasn’t long before all the contest spectators were watching Lucky, some aiming their Instagram-linked iPhone cameras at him. It was only later we discovered that CNN also had a cameraman at that event. Not only did Lucky eat all the tacos, but he was also the first to finish them as well!

Since the top two human taco eating contest champions were state-level champs, it didn’t take the local folk much time to declare, over the protest of those two guys, Lucky the 2015 taco eating contest winner. CNN national news and its website showed scenes of Lucky gobbling up the last of the tacos. The fair’s Facebook page ended up with the greatest number of views in local history. The social media sensation Lucky would become the “picture boy” for the next state fair.

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Amazing

Bizarre Starfish Found in Palm Beach

Kelly Taylor

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A person visiting Palm Beach, Florida witnessed a huge starfish gliding across the sand after low tide. While dislodging itself out of the sand, the creature slowly crawled across the sand, almost looking like it was floating on the surface. The video’s unloader says that he was amazed to watch the bizarre-looking creature embarked on his journey.



The National Geographic notes that starfish are invertebrate and that they are part of the family that consists of sand dollars and sea urchins. The majority of starfish live in tidal pools and coral reefs.

Most starfish have spiny skin and consist of five arms. However, some species can grow to have as many as 50 arms. The one in the video that is going viral has nine arms. Underneath the arms, you can see small little suckers that are used to allow the animal to slowly creep along the ocean floor — in this case along the sand. On the ends of its arms are eye-spots that are light-sensitive and are used for hunting food. They attack prey by attaching themselves and spreading its stomach out through its mouth, essentially vomiting onto its prey, with enzymes breaking down the prey so that the starfish can digest it. While we usually have a pleasant mental image of a beautiful starfish, what’s underneath it is surprisingly terrifying

About The Starfish Species


While it is difficult to determine the type of species in the viral video, it is most likely a Luidia senegalensis. These starfish are known for their unique nine arm formation. Once fully grown, they’ll have a diameter of about 16 inches, with some specimen growing even larger. They could be found in depths of up to 130 feet around the coast of Florida.


Why Are Starfish Found At The Beach?


Most starfish are found in deep waters or in small pools along the beach called tidal pools. During low tide, the ocean pulls back from the beach, revealing small sea animals.

Sometimes starfish are found in beaches because of age or because they are dying. Thankfully the starfish in the viral video looks very robust and healthy, slowly dislodging itself from the sand and crawling to a safe spot in the water or a nearby tidal pool.

What To Do If You Find A Starfish

Joey did the right thing — he kept his distance, and did not disturb the starfish or its environment. Never harvest live starfish for several reasons — unless you can explicitly identify the starfish, you might be handling one that is venomous to human beings. While starfish do not attack humans, they can intentionally or accidentally inflict painful stings with a release of venom when they are handled.

Unfortunately, there’s also the chance of fatally damaging the starfish. Starfish not only sensitive, but they can only breathe while in the water. Some might instantly die when lifted out of the water or touched by a human.

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Amazing

The Day I Met a Baby Gray Whale

Kevin Wells

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In addition to being one of the most curious and intelligent creatures in Earth’s oceans, due to their great size and the fact that they travel vast distances, gray whales are also host to a wealth of scientific data about the health of our oceans. Gray whales have a long history of unique interactions with humans. Most of the time they appear indifferent to us. Sometimes they behave in a friendly way. But during a few points in history, in a small number of locations, legends of gray whales flipping small boats and dragging men beneath the waves have cropped up.

But gray whales can even be dangerous when they do not mean to be. Weighing in at nearly 40 tons, with massive flippers and a huge, powerful tail, gray whales have downed many small boats either accidentally or otherwise. But these fascinating creatures still have a powerful draw for us. They are mysterious, massive, and have eyes which reflect a strangely familiar intelligence.

So when Cheryl and David Kipling set out in hopes of meetings these creatures face to face, it was no small task overcoming their trepidation. Cheryl and David are biologists and run a lab where they study the remains of whales that have been killed prematurely by the actions of humans.

Cheryl explained, “I’ve autopsied the brains of half a dozen gray whales and the one thing that stands out is the size and sophistication of their limbic brain.”

We asked for more clarification on why having a big limbic brain is such a big deal.

She replied, “The limbic brain, in mammals, is the part of the brain that renders emotions. It’s sandwiched between the fore-brain- which is big in humans, and the hindbrain- which controls all of our cravings and reflex instincts. The limbic brain motivates us with feelings. When you look at a puppy and say ‘ahh’ at his big brown eyes, or when you miss a loved one and want to see them, that’s the limbic brain. Judging by the size of their’s, these animals are deeply emotional. They are primarily emotional, in fact- whereas people might be said to be primarily intellect oriented. That’s why it’s such a crime to keep orcas in captivity, separate them from their pods- their families. They suffer intensely.”

Equipped with this new and strange knowledge, going out with Dave and Cheryl to meet the whales felt all the more momentous. Getting out on the water to the right spot where the whale sightings were happening took most of the day. But the weather was beautiful, the water was calm, and we would have been happy even if no whales had shown up. But they did.

The couple spotted a mother and calf breaching the surface some distance off. They were headed in our direction. For several minutes, wonder, anticipation, and- we’ll admit, a little bit of dread were palpable. All I could think about is what I would do if one of these animals accidentally flipped our boat.

But eventually, the mother and calf reached us. They were careening off to the south. But then the baby spotted us and approached our boat. It came right up to the boat and held its long snout out of the water right next to the boat. It just sort of “stood” there. Cheryl and David reached out and stroked the animal’s nose while the mother looked on.

The baby whale turned and looked us over with its oddly small eye, calmly, almost serenely as Cheryl and David stroked her. Then the whales passed as quietly as they came. I’ll never forget the lucidity and the depth of feeling in the eye of that baby whale.

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Entertainment

World’s Smallest McDonald’s Restaurant Draws Attention to Important Issue

Kelly Taylor

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McDonald’s is one of the world’s leading fast food restaurant chains, with Statista noting that they had as many as 37,855 restaurants open across the globe as of the end of last year. Given the sheer number of McDonald’s restaurants currently operation, one would think that the opening of another one would barely register on an international level, but that was not the case.

That’s due in large part to this particular restaurant being dedicated to serving customers of a different species.

The Remarkable McHive

In partnership with the advertising agency NORD DDB, McDonald’s created a miniature replica of one of their restaurants. The small restaurant, known as the McHive, features many of the same elements that people will see if they visit one of the McDonald’s branches in their area.

There are drive-thru windows present on the McHive, large windows, and outdoor seating for guests who may prefer to dine in an open-air environment. One can even see some posters advertising the restaurant chain’s offerings plastered on the walls of the “World’s Smallest McDonald’s.”

Of course, it cannot be called a McDonald’s restaurant without those iconic golden arches serving as its crowning glory.

This restaurant isn’t designed for people to dine in though. Instead, the McHive, as its name already hints at, is meant to house bees.

The Meaning behind the McHive

The McHive is actually a nod to a movement initiated by branches of the fast food chain in Sweden. Some of the McDonald’s restaurants in the aforementioned country have started to house beehives on their rooftops.

Also of note, the McHive features beehives on top of its roof and inside of it as well.

Via AdWeek, McDonald’s Sweden marketing director Christoffer Rönnblad said that the restaurant chain is happy to spread the message of sustainability. McDonald’s has gotten behind the practice of hosting beehives on the rooftops of their restaurants.

Set designer Nicklas Nilsson was responsible for the creation of the McHive. Since the release of the video showing off the McHive, the gorgeous structure has been auctioned off and the proceeds from it have gone to Ronald McDonald House charities.

While McDonald’s efforts to promote sustainable and to help the bee population are laudable, they will need more help to succeed.

The Concerning Status of the Bee Population

According to a recent report from ABC News, the bee population is continuing to decrease at an alarming rate. Research notes that 37.7 percent of the managed bee population declined from Oct. 1, 2018 to April 1 of this year.

That’s a noticeable decline in the managed bee population and it represents the largest winter losses since surveys were first conducted back in 2006. Accounting for a larger of window of time that goes from April 1, 2018 to April 1, 2019, the reported losses in the managed bee population totaled 40.7 percent.

Scott McArt, the assistant professor of pollinator health at Cornell University, described the aforementioned losses in the managed bee population as “unsustainably high.” McArt also mentioned that the losses can be explained in part by the presence of the varroa mite parasite that has been known to carry and spread diseases inside beehives.

According to EarthDay.org, other factors contributing to the decline of the bee population include climate change, habitat fragmentation, and the use of certain pesticides.

The decline of the population is not something to be taken lightly. Bees play an important role in the world’s ecosystem as they are excellent pollinators. Plants pollinated by bees are said to make up 35 percent of the world’s food production.

Furthermore, the loss of bees could indirectly affect other animals that sustain themselves on the products that come about as a result of pollination.

Should the bee population continue to drop at an unsustainable rate, the effects on food production for all creatures that inhabit the Earth could be quite severe.

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Amazing

Looking Back at an Eventful Summer for Snowflake the Albino Alligator

Kevin Wells

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The past few months have been quite eventful for one particular albino alligator.

In case you missed it, an albino alligator named Snowflake generated more than a few headlines in recent months.

Back in May, Snowflake was welcomed as a kind of guest of honor after arriving at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. It’s easy to see why Snowflake caused a stir when she first made her way to the Brookfield Zoo.

Due to her albinism, Snowflake can stand out easily even amongst a crowded congregation of alligators. She possesses noticeably white skin that can be likened very much to the look of ivory and her eyes also have a pinkish hue. Those characteristics are typical of an albino alligator.

It is worth noting that Snowflake is also significantly shorter than many of the other alligators that you may be able to see in zoos or swamps. Per ABC 7 Chicago, Snowflake measures about 7 feet long. An average adult female American alligator measures about 8.2 feet tall, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute.

While Snowflake was enjoying the attention from visitors at the Brookfield Zoo, an important and exciting discovery was made back at her home.

Snowflake Is Going to be a Mother

In June, Wild Florida announced that the caretakers of Snowflake and another albino alligator named Blizzard found eggs at the pair’s shelter. A total of 19 eggs were found at Snowflake and Blizzard’s exhibit, WFTV 9 reported.

Upon spotting the eggs, the caretakers acted fast to collect and move them to a more secure location.

Wild Florida co-founder and co-owner Dan Munns explained that moving the eggs out of the shelter was a necessary step due to some of the difficulties that the pair of albino alligators may encounter as parents. Munns explained that while alligators typically make for great mothers, Snowflake may not be as capable as some of her counterparts because of the blindness brought about by her albinism.

By securing the eggs themselves, the caretakers can shield them from any predators that may come snooping around. The eggs are being kept in an incubator in order so that they can be cared for in a more controlled environment. The caretakers mentioned that keeping the eggs in an environment where the temperature can remain at a stable level is essential to successful hatching.

Additional Facts about Albino Alligators

The fact that the eggs came from parents exhibiting albinism could very well turn out to be good news for the albino alligator population. Typically, albino alligators are born as a result of two normal alligators who carry the recessive gene for albinism mating, according to Safari Ltd. Since both Snowflake and Blizzard are albino alligators, the chances for them producing offspring that feature the same physical traits could be higher.

The albino alligator population could certainly use a boost. At present, biologists estimate that only around 100 albino alligators could be alive across the entire world.

Albino alligators are rare not just because they are the offspring of parents carrying some uncommon genes. It is also difficult for albino alligators to survive precisely because of their unique appearance.

Unlike the alligators that feature a more common skin color, albino alligators find it incredibly difficult to disguise themselves. That makes them easy prey for predators especially when they are younger.

Because of those struggles they could potentially face in the wild, you will often find zoos and farms caring for albino alligators to ensure that they can live out long and happy lives. While it’s still unclear what kind of offspring Snowflake and Blizzard will produce, there is certainly a fair amount of optimism that they will bring more albino alligators into the world.

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