An extremely rare white alligator died Monday at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, the organization said in a statement on its Facebook page.
"Spots," which had been with the aquarium since 1990, was 28.
The reptile suffered from leucism, a genetic condition that that produces less than typical amounts of skin pigmentation, creating a patchwork of normal coloring. Leucistic creatures face increased odds of survival in the wild, where they're easily spotted by predators and left exposed to the sun, the statement said.
Spots was believed to be one of fewer than 15 white alligators in the U.S. — out of a population of 5 million.
"We have been fortunate to be able to experience the wonder of such a rare and beautiful animal," said the aquarium's managing director, Rich Toth, according to the statement. "We're proud to have cared for him for more than 28 years."
Spots was discovered in a Louisiana swamp in 1986, one of 17 infants scooped up by land surveyors. A handful of them were later given to the Audubon Zoo.
It was unclear why Spots died — leucistic alligators can have a lifespan of "perhaps" 50 years, the group said on its website — although a team of veterinarians was working to determine the cause of death, the statement said.