FROM THE ABC7 ARCHIVE: Claude, the albino alligator's, dramatic arrival at the Cal Academy in SF

ByJennifer Olney via KGO logo
Thursday, September 27, 2018
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Claude the albino alligator is one of the biggest superstars at Cal Academy in San Francisco. Here's a look back at the beloved gator's dramatic arrival in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- All this week, the California Academy of Sciences is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its move into a new state-of-the art museum in San Francisco.

ABC7 News was there a decade ago for behind-the-scenes coverage as new exhibits were created and old exhibits were re-imagined for the future.

FROM THE ABC7 ARCHIVE: Celebrating the creation of SF's California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park

One of the most popular spots at the old California Academy of Sciences was a swamp tank full of alligators. So the new museum includes an updated version, using original tiles and a beloved brass railing that looks like a line of seahorses.

Two American alligators, one of them a rare albino, were trucked across the country from Florida to take up residence in the new tank.

They traveled in a pickup truck in wooden crates with gator handler Rick Cleveland.

RELATED: California Academy of Sciences' Living Roof still thriving after 10 years

The alligators' arrival in the building made for a very dramatic show. Biologists struggled to get them out of their crates and keep them under control for a medical exam.

They were pronounced healthy and carefully installed in the new swamp. The gators were named Bonnie and Claude. But after a few months, it was clear, they did not get along. Bonnie was picking on Claude. After some effort to work things out, Bonnie was sent back to Florida.

Claude, who is almost blind, remained as a star attraction. He just celebrated his 23rd birthday.

You can watch our entire 2008 ABC7 special "Under the Living Roof: The Making of the California Academy of Sciences" here:

For more stories and videos related to the California Academy of Sciences, visit this page.