Florida alligator with missing upper jaw gets fitting name after hit song


Published September 30, 2023, 4:02 pm ET

A Florida alligator that went viral for missing most of her upper jaw got a fitting, country song-inspired name.

The animal was nicknamed “Jawlene,” after the Dolly Parton song “Jolene,” after a public appeal on social media.

The animal was discovered in Seminole County earlier this month and was taken in by Gatorland, a theme park and wildlife sanctuary in Orlando.

The park asked online for help naming the reptile, a 3- to 4-year-old female who weighs about 18 pounds.

In a video posted to Facebook, Gatorland CEO Mark McHugh revealed why they chose the name because of the hit song, which is on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

“This little alligator is an absolute treasure, we are so in love with her, but another American treasure is Dolly Parton,” McHugh said.

“One of the names that really stuck with us and grew on us was a reference to one of Dolly’s famous songs, so we’re going to call this little gator ‘Jawlene.’

A Florida alligator missing most of its upper jaw was named “Jawlene,” after the Dolly Parton hit “Jolene.” Facebook/Gatorland Orlando

Park officials aren’t sure why the animal lost part of its jaw.

“I don’t know exactly what happened. It could have been a number of things, could have been another alligator, maybe even a boat propeller because it’s a pretty clean injury that went over, but it closed, it ate,” said Mike Hileman, a Gatorland director, told News 6.

“This is not the first alligator species we have recorded with this type of injury,” he continued.

Gatorland CEO Mark McHugh announced the news of the naming.Facebook/Gatorland Orlando

“We had several others and were able to keep them healthy and growing. They are years old now and I see no other reason why this one cannot do the same.”

The alligator went viral after its photos spread on social media, but Hileman says she’s still “very humble” for now.

“I mean, she’s really getting a lot of attention right now. I hope it doesn’t go to her head and become a little diva,” he told WINK News.

“But right now she’s very good, very down to earth.”

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