I was shocked to hear that one of the two alligators at the Academy of Sciences had bitten the other alligator so badly that he would lose a toe.
Actually, I wasn't shocked. No one was shocked. Alligators are bitey. And it even looks as if Claude, the wounded party, will get to keep the toe. But I did want to know the details. Fortunately the San Francisco Chronicle sent justly-famous science editor David Perlman to get the full story.
An albino alligator is the reptile version of a white tiger. Although the recent news that the iguanas of the Galápagos include a previously unrecognized species, the “pink iguana” (no final scientific name yet), makes me think that zoos will soon clamor for the glamor of pink. Pink lizards might be a bigger draw than white gators.
In the pond where Bonnie and Claude live, there is a delightful heated rock. They love to bask on it, and there should be room for two. But the other day Bonnie was relaxing there when Claude swam up. Trying to get on the rock, he bumped Bonnie. She bit him on what the aquarium curator, no doubt seeking to provide accessible knowledge to the public, calls the “right pinkie toe.” He didn't want to dazzle us with intimidating talk of a "distal phalanx," I guess. But we, the gator-data-consuming public, don't need to be talked down to, and we demand more precise information. Which right pinkie toe? The bite was on a front foot, a forefoot. That makes it a foretoe. Right pinkie foretoe. Already we know more. Wait, he's a water creature, let's use nautical terminology. Starboard pinkie foretoe!
At the aquarium they hauled Claude out with a crane, and wheeled him down to the basement for X-rays, antibiotics, and a three-week stay in medical custody. He is a star, who will receive the highest level of care. No doubt they will give him the standard medical forms to fill out. This should give him a chance to decide whether to list Bonnie as the individual to be notified in case of an emergency.Albino animals often have impairments in vision. They're white because they lack the pigment melanin in their skin. They also lack pigment in their eyes, and as a result they have bad eyesight. Claude is said to be nearly blind. This explains a lot. He could not see Bonnie, and could not see that she was giving him A Look. (I feel sure of this.) Poor blind fool missed that warning sign and his starboard pinkie foretoe paid the price.