Tuesday, January 31, 2012

That Time I Went in an Alligator Cage

You guys know that every so often I get to do really, really cool things at my job.

Like the time I held $320,000 at the U.S. Mint.

320K

Or the time I got to go into one of the White House kitchens and interview their executive chef.

But I think yesterday takes the cake.

Yesterday, I got to go in the cage with an albino alligator while she was being fed.

alligator
Oleander, the alligator.

Getting in the tank
Me being a cornball as I walk into her cage.

Our team was on site at the National Aquarium in D.C. interviewing some of the staff about their jobs and all the animals in the aquarium for our kids website.

filming alligator feeding

I've been to the National Aquarium in Baltimore several times, but had never checked out its sister location in D.C. The aquarium in D.C. is located in the basement of the Department of Commerce, pretty much the last place you'd expect to find a bunch of tanks full of animals.

Herbert C. Hoover Building (Department of Commerce)
Department of Commerce (Source)

Oleander, the albino alligator is on special display until April, and she is really quite a sight. She's still pretty small, only about four feet long, and compared to other alligators she's much more docile. And she's obviously not that dark green/black color you expect to see in alligators.

Fun fact: There are fewer than 100 albino alligators in the world.

When I was in her cage, Oleander stayed in the water and didn't really pay any attention to me, although at one point she got bored with her food and started swimming in my direction.

alligator feeding

As you'll notice, I sort of started to back up a little bit then. She might be small and have poor eyesight compared to other alligators, but she's still an alligator.

The aquarium staff feed her a variety of different food, but yesterday's delicacy was frozen mice. So yep, I got up close and personal with some frozen mice for the camera.

Being that close to an alligator was really, really cool. I've been to aquariums tons of times, but I've never had a chance to be on the other side of the glass.

P.S. If you're curious, you can check out a virtual tour of the D.C. aquarium. You'll notice right away how different Oleander looks compared the alligator in the virtual tour.

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