Review and images by Bryan Divers; edited by bmathison1972
Alligators have held a unique appeal for me for many years since I was quite small. I remember watching an old VHS on reptiles in 2003 that prominently featured alligators. It was called “Crocodile Rocks: Itty Bitty Kiddy Wildlife.” The program played classic rock in the background, but was quite informative about alligators. I have always loved their smiley faces with long jaws, bony eyebrows, and spiky, flat backs and long tails. Crocodilians, like alligators, are among the closest living relatives to dinosaurs, outside of the birds. Some have even been kept successfully and developed bonds with the people who raised them. Crocodiles and alligators are also unique for being the only reptiles that care for their young. Alligators are generally smaller and less aggressive than crocodiles, and live in the southeastern United States and in China. The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) has recovered phenomenally since its endangerment in the 1960s, but the Chinese alligator (A. sinensis) sadly remains endangered. Southern Florida is the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators naturally coexist in the wild.
Enter Leah, a very appealing American alligator plush toy by Aurora World. She is about 12 inches long in general size, though her tail may add a couple more inches. Three furrows of green spikes run along her back and tail. Her eyes are yellow with amazing reptilian detail, down to having an alligator’s slit-like pupils! Her body is made of a dark olive green plush fabric with a creamy white belly. Her eyes and nostrils bulge at the top of her head–an alligator has these features to allow it to swim almost totally submerged with only their eyes and nostrils above the water. Leah has three-toed feet, and is very soft and squishy. A small bag of plastic beans appears to be in her lower abdomen, just between her back legs…this is probably to weight that part of her body so she sits in a good pose. This might not be good for very small children, but the same could be said of her plastic eyes…I really think this is more of a toy for older collectors than babies or very small children.
She is also a nice size for take-along, thanks to an alligator’s flat body shape, I can take her along in my pack without much bulk at all. I am waiting on an embroidered alligator patch and a brass alligator charm to put on my pack in her honor.
To be perfectly honest, it is hard to find another stuffed alligator as appealing for such a reasonable price. The Wild Republic Cuddlekins Alligator comes close, but in my opinion is too big. This animal is also less expensive at a very affordable $12.99. She is available at Stuffed Safari (where I got mine), Amazon, and probably other stores that sell realistic stuffed animals. You may even find her at an aquarium. I am unsure when she was released, but she is still in production going strong! Rating: 5 stars–because it’s hard to find another stuffed alligator that beats her! I let her sleep in a little pet bed by my pillows, and I like the notation in the company’s advertising for Leah: “Use your big friend to stay safe at night.” A final note is that Leah is the name I gave to her because of an alligator character in the novella I am writing, but this name is not directly associated with the toy by the manufacturer.