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Gator missing upper jaw given new home, name

An alligator is persevering at a Florida wildlife preserve despite a significant injury that left her without an upper jaw.
Gator missing upper jaw given new home, name
Posted at 7:59 AM, Oct 04, 2023

An alligator missing its upper jaw has not only a new home, but it has a new name thanks to social media. 

Gatorland in Orlando, Florida, said it has named its newest addition Jawlene, a play on the Dolly Parton hit "Jolene."

Mark B. McHugh, Gatorland's CEO, said Jawlene was recently able to eat mice without any assistance. 

"She gets it in there, she throws her little tongue going and was able to get it back and swallow it," McHugh said on Facebook. 

McHugh said the wildlife preserve has gotten questions on whether Jawlene should have a prosthetic jaw installed. 

"We're going to hold off on that," McHugh said. "We have talked with some people who make prosthetics for animals and people and do 3D printing. That is something down the road. We don't want to stress her out doing something to her right now." 

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McHugh said the goal for now is for Jawlene to get comfortable with her new environment. 

It's not fully known how Jawlene lost her upper jaw. Gatorland said it's possible she lost it in a fight with another alligator or possibly by a boat propeller. 

"She had basically no chance of surviving in the wild with such a severe injury," Gatorland said in a Facebook post last month. "Here at Gatorland, our dedicated team will give her lots of loving care to live out her life in Alligator Paradise."

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