Albino Alligator.

Albino Alligator

Field review by the editors.

San Francisco, California

The California Academy of Sciences is an impressive city science museum and aquarium, with well-funded and designed exhibits and animal habitats. The domed roof, visible in satellite views and accessible by an observation terrace, is Green-smart and covered with grass and plants ("seven undulating green hillocks"); animals are sometimes allowed to wander "The Living Roof." Most of the displays inside are educational, responsible, uncontroversial.

But that doesn't stop the Academy from grasping the value of a funky animal star -- even one that's a freak. Claude the Albino Alligator is a popular draw to the "The Swamp." Claude is a teenaged, all-white reptile who spends most of his time in sleepy languor, like all alligators. The gift shops sells Claude the Alligator plushy toys.

Contents of a Tiger Shark's stomach.

We saw a couple of other oddities, though as minor exhibits they may be cycled out over time: 1) a display of the contents of a Tiger Shark's stomach, including a California license plate, a can of SPAM, and a couple of Barbie dolls; 2) a discolored replica of a human foot underwater, helping to explain the medicinal value of leeches.

Albino Alligator

California Academy of Sciences

Address:
55 Music Concourse Dr., San Francisco, CA
Directions:
California Academy of Sciences, 19th Ave. to the east side of Golden Gate Park, across from the De Young Museum of Art.
Hours:
M-Tu 9:30 am - 8 pm, W-Sa 9:30 am - 5 pm, Su 11 am - 5 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone:
415-321-8000
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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In the region:
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July 23, 2017

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