Sunday, January 6, 2008

How much is that gator in the window?

Some albino alligators got stolen the other day.

According to the Associated Press: Seven albino alligators disappeared this week from Brazil's Federal University of Mato Grosso, and authorities suspect animal smugglers. The alligators are extremely rare and are worth about $9,700 apiece.

This brings several questions to mind:

1.  Why are we so interested in all things albino? Seriously, if this story was about green alligators (Cue the Irish Rovers: You gotcher green alligators and long-necked geese; some humpty-back camels and some chimpanzees...) there wouldn't be nearly as much attention paid to it. It wouldn't have even made the papers, methinks. And think about The DaVinci Code. Would it have been half as interesting if the self-punishing hitman-monk wasn't an albino? NO! The mere presence of a melatonin-challenged individual ups the suspense exponentially.

2.  How does one go about stealing alligators? It's not like you can just walk through the aisles and slip one into the inside pocket of your overcoat. You can't throw a ball into the back of your station wagon and say, "Fetch! Go get it, boy!" And you've got to be careful once you get the things, or you could give the term inside job a whole new meaning.

3.  Who sets the price for stolen albino alligators? This is the aspect of the story that got me started. How does one decide how much an albino alligator is worth? Why $9,700? Who decided that $9,800 was just too much to pay? Is there a running black market on white gators that responds to supply-and-demand economics? Which leads to...

4.  Just what is the demand for albino alligators? Who wants a small supply of them so much that they would pay to have them stolen? Of what use are they after you gain possession of them? Would you even be able to "show them off" as exotic pets? I mean, the whole world knows they were stolen, for crying out loud!

"Mr. Bond, I am so glad you stopped by. Your visit has given me an opportunity to demonstrate the power of my albino alligators. Yes, I are filled with fear and dread far beyond the level you would have reached had they merely been normally-pigmented alligators...but don't worry, my minions will clean up the puddle you just made."

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