In Florida’s Gatorland Park, an extraordinary alligator with a missing upper jaw has captured the hearts of visitors and locals, finding a lifelong sanctuary. This remarkable alligator has been bestowed with the name “Jawlene,” a heartwarming tribute to the 1973 Dolly Parton classic “Jolene.” Jawlene, a female alligator, has been receiving specialized care and attention, with every effort made to ensure her comfort and well-being. Savannah Boan, the park’s dedicated crocodilian enrichment coordinator, has played a crucial role in caring for Jawlene, helping her gain a slight amount of weight, approximately 0.01 ounces. This achievement is a testament to the commitment of the park’s team and the resilience of this remarkable reptile. Furthermore, it was the community’s involvement that contributed to the selection of the name “Jawlene,” underscoring the collective desire to see this alligator flourish.

Mark McHugh, the CEO of Gatorland, shared the positive news about Jawlene’s progress in a heartfelt video, celebrating her ability to self-feed by consuming two mice independently using the back of her tongue. While there have been discussions about the possibility of fitting Jawlene with a prosthetic upper jaw, the park’s administration has wisely decided to postpone such measures for the time being. Their primary concern is ensuring that Jawlene becomes fully acclimated to her new environment and gains the weight she needs for a healthier future. Mark McHugh expressed profound affection for this remarkable alligator, reinforcing that she has become a symbol of resilience and hope at Gatorland Park, showcasing the unwavering commitment of both the park’s team and the broader community to her well-being.