The Story Behind Gatorland’s New White Gator Swamp

Gatorland, the “Alligator Capital of the World,” opened its brand new White Gator Swamp this October, featuring three natural exhibits with filtered sunlight, designed to meet the delicate needs of its leucistic and albino alligators. This brand-new area of the park is a tribute to the Godwin family’s work and support the past 70 years, after opening Gatorland in 1949. Here is the story behind Gatorland’s new white gator swamp.

Each of the special staging areas of the White Gator Swamp is a memorial to members of the second generation of the Godwin Family, all instrumental in the growth and success of Gatorland. Joann Vaughn Godwin was married to Frank, the youngest of Gatorland founders Owen and Pearl. Her fiery red hair gave her sass to marry into the family of 3,000 reptiles. She was a master gardener, farmer, and grower of all things. She never met a plant she didn’t like. Joann loved her big family, kids and being a grandmommy to four grandchildren. Her favorite pastime was taking road trips in the RV with her husband, Frank.
Owen Luther Godwin Jr. played harmonica in a cowboy hat, tie, and suspenders. He was a renaissance man who worked on the guidance systems of the Gemini rockets. Owen helped to build Gatorland along with his three younger siblings and parents. He was a proud graduate of the University of Florida. Go Gators! A history buff and an avid reader, Owen also had an impressive home library and loved playing the piano and listening to music. He worked on motherboards, was a ham radio operator and loved traveling with his wife, Nancy. Owen was truly a one of a kind man, with two kids, two grandkids and three great-grandkids.


Gatorland entrance

Sue Godwin Krause, the second eldest child of Owen and Pearl, was an amazing lady who wrote an essay in high school that won her a scholarship to study in Paris. She didn’t go to Paris but went on to get her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. Sue was also a master gardener, took brick laying classes, sewed for charities and took great pride in her handmade quilts. Like the Godwins, she had a great love of animals and the outdoors. Sue had five children, seven grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. She was known for her philanthropy, generosity and could often be found in her garden with a good book and a cup of hot tea. Sue was a strong, independent woman who was known for her great bear hugs.

Gatorland White Gator

Gatorland is a 100-acre theme park is celebrating its 70th Anniversary this year. Today, it provides affordably-priced family fun featuring thousands of alligators and crocodiles, breeding marsh with observation tower, free-flight aviary, nature walk, petting zoo, educational wildlife programs, award-winning gift shop, Florida’s best train ride, Gator Gully Splash Park, on-site restaurant and one-of-a-kind shows including Gator Jumparoo and Up-close Encounters. Popular adventure experiences inside the park include the Screamin’ Gator Zipline and Stompin’ Gator Off-Road adventure.

For more Gatorland information, visit us online at or call 800-393-JAWS. Find us on Facebook at, on Twitter and on Instagram: gatorland_orlando