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Orlando’s Gatorland takes in gator with missing upper jaw

This photo posted on the Gatorland Facebook page on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023 shows Savannah Boan, Crocodilian Enrichment Coordinator at the Gatorland theme park in Orlando, Fla., holding an alligator with a missing upper jaw that was that was rescued and brought to the park to be cared for. (Gatorland via AP)

ORLANDO, Fla. (WISH) — A state that’s no stranger to alligators even has a theme park to honor the species — and that park just welcomed a very unique new resident.

Gatorland Orlando is a giant theme park that also focuses on animal rescue and rehabilitation through its Gatorland Global program. The newest member of the Gatorland family is a “little lady” alligator that made news all around the world due to an extreme accident that cost the gator her upper jaw.

Gatorland Orlando posted on social media on Sunday that the gator was found in a lake in Sanford — about 20 miles north of Orlando.

Rehabilitation experts with the park say she likely lost her upper jaw in a fight or possibly to a boat propeller, leaving her with no chance of surviving in the wild.

The park says she will be monitored for the next couple of days and encouraged to eat in a stress-free environment. To help her eat, park officials say veterinarians are cutting food into small bits and tossing them into the back of her throat. The hope is that she’ll be able to live out her days in Gatorland’s giant lakes.

“We are beyond blessed to be able to help this little alligator have the very best life ever here with us at Gatorland! This little lady made news around the globe due to the extent of her injury,” Gatorland said in an updated post on social media. “Here at Gatorland, our dedicated team will give her lots of loving care to live out her life in Alligator Paradise.”

Now, the park is asking for help naming its newest resident. Those interested can submit name ideas in the comments of Gatorland’s Facebook post requesting the entries.

Gatorland calls itself “The Alligator Capital of the World.” It houses alligators and crocodiles of all sizes. It also has a free-flight aviary, petting zoo, one-of-a-kind animal shows, thrilling Screamin’ Gator Zip Line, and the new Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure.