7 famous albino animals
Albinism is a congenital disorder that robs the skin, hair and eyes of color. Albinos are extremely pale and as such, suffer from sun burns and skin cancers more frequently than non-albinos. The lack of eye pigmentation can also cause problems. Human albinos often require surgery or wear corrective lenses. Albino animals face almost insurmountable odds when they’re born in the wild. Baby albinos are seen as an oddity within their own species and are more visible to predators. These animals may also be cursed with imperfect vision or other health problems. Those lucky enough to be born in a zoo can look forward to a relatively comfortable life being gawked at — and written about by environmental websites. Here are 7 famous albino animals.
Snowflake the gorilla arrived at the Barcelona Zoo in the mid ’60s to great fanfare, including an official reception thrown by the mayor of the city. Snowflake was captured by a farmer in Equatorial Guinea under tragic circumstances — the farmer killed all the gorillas in Snowflake’s group just to capture him. He was found clinging to his dead mother’s fur. Through a series of middlemen, Snowflake found his way to the Barcelona zoo where he settled into a comfortable life. He went on to father 22 babies, none of which were albino.
In September 2003, it was announced that he suffered from a rare form of skin cancer (most likely caused by his albinism). Thousands of visitors came to pay their respects before he was euthanized a month after the announcement.
Snowdrop the penguin. You’d think albino penguins would be more common since they spend so much time in the snow. (If you’re going to be an all-white animal, what better backdrop could you find?) Of course, nature doesn’t work that way. Snowdrop the penguin was one of the few albinos that made it to adulthood. He was born at the Bristol Zoo in England, and was accepted by his clutch-mates unconditionally. Sadly, Snowdrop only lived for a couple of years before dying suddenly in August 2004.
Pinky the dolphin. In 2007, a Louisiana boat captain spotted a pink dolphin swimming with a small group of bottlenose dolphins in Lake Calcasieu, an inland saltwater estuary north of the Gulf of Mexico. Nicknamed “Pinky,” the dolphin is entirely pink in both skin and eyes but shouldn’t be confused with the Amazon river dolphin, an entire species of white dolphins discovered in the Amazon river. (The Amazon river dolphin isn’t a true albino). Just like any respectable celebrity, Pinky has his own Facebook fan page.
Mocha Dick was another famous white whale. This ferocious fighter was so well-known to 19th-century whalers that he inspired Herman Melville’s classic, “Moby Dick.” Mocha was an albino sperm whale that reportedly survived more than 100 encounters with whalers before he was eventually killed. He was docile when unprovoked but would turn into an aggressive fighter when attacked, using his body to smash the boats of those who sought his blubber. He was killed in 1838 after coming to the rescue of a cow that had just lost a calf to whalers.
Migaloo the albino humpback is well-known in Australia where he regularly travels along the country’s east coast during migration season. First spotted in 1991, Migaloo is the world’s only known albino humpback. He has been seen nearly every year since his discovery and even has his own website at MigalooWhale.org.
Onya Birri the koala. This rare albino koala was born in 1997 in the San Diego Zoo. His name, Onya-Birri, means “ghost boy” in the Aborigine language. He spent the first part of his life in his mother’s pouch, finally making his surprise appearance six months after being born. Although albino koalas have been known to exist in the wild, Onya-Birri is the only one known to science.
Claude the alligator is the most famous resident of the California Academy of Sciences. Born in captivity in Florida, he now spends his days splashing around The Swamp, his little corner of the academy. For a few years he shared the space with another gator named Bonnie, but that ended when Claude, whose weakened albino eyes made him prone to bump into things (and other gators), provoked Bonnie into biting him on the foot. After Bonnie was shipped back to Florida and Claude recovered, he was reintroduced back into The Swamp.
Jackdaw bird. This rare pure albino jackdaw bird was spotted by head gardener Joseph Atkin at Aberglasney Gardens in Carmarthenshire, South Wales.