A rare albino American alligator that was seized by customs after a passenger from the USA tried to smuggle it in his suitcase on a flight to Singapore has found a new home.
The metre-long female reptile startled baggage inspectors at Munich International Airport, Bavaria, Germany, when they found her stuffed into a cramped suitcase on 25th September 2022.
Later named Ophelia, the animal was reportedly curled up and almost completely wrapped in a cling film with just a tiny hole left open so she could breathe through her nostrils.
Customs officers at the time stopped the 42-year-old traveller and businessman from boarding the plane to Singapore and initiated a criminal case against him for violating animal welfare laws.
Munich Main Customs Office said: “While checking luggage, security check employees discovered an unusual X-ray image.
“They immediately informed customs officers, who, when opening the suitcase, found a live white alligator wrapped in cling film.
“Together with a veterinarian, the customs officers freed the animal and took over first aid.”
Ophelia whose lack of pigment could have earned her owner up to EUR 75,000 (GBP 65,700) on the Asian black market, was seized and taken to the ‘Rescue station for reptiles Munich eV’ sanctuary in Munich.
Sanctuary officials claimed that Ophelia was handed over to them nearly suffocated and in a very poor state because of its fixed position in the suitcase.
They said in a statement obtained by Newsflash: “The fact that the animal survived is nothing but a miracle.”
But she was recently relocated to a new home – the TerraZoo in the town of Rheinberg – after vets’ examinations proved that her health has improved significantly since her arrival.
The zoo welcomed their new resident through a statement and said: “For a few days now, the TerraZoo has been enjoying the arrival of a real sensation.
“The new addition is a three-year-old American alligator. The sensation is: She is an albino!
“The white lady is originally from America and is used to dealing with people.
“There are about 60 albino alligators in the world. In Germany, this rare armoured reptile can only be admired in the TerraZoo.”
Terra Zoo officials claimed that due to the lack of pigments and the high sensitivity to UV radiation, albino alligators have no chance of surviving in the wild as they are easily noticed by predators.