Albinism is a genetic condition where animals (or people) are born without pigment (color) in their bodies. Skin coloring happens because of melanin, and animals with albinism don’t produce enough (or any) melanin — making their skin and/or scales completely white. Sometimes that makes them look like ghosts, but sometimes it makes them look very cool and unusual. Here are 10 amazing and cute albino animals.
The big news this month is that an albino panda has been spotted! This is the first albino panda to ever have been spotted in the wild, and it made the news on nearly every TV channel and website around the web.
Known for their black and white coloring, panda bears are adorable, chunky creatures. You would think that an albino panda would look like a white polar bear, but as you can see — it’s actually pretty clear from the shape and size of the animal that it’s definitely a panda. As of now it’s still unclear whether any more albino pandas exist in the wild, but chances are slim because panda populations worldwide have been on the decline.
Pinky the Dolphin :
Pinky the dolphin is a Louisiana bottlenose dolphin with albinism. Unlike most other animals on this list — this albino animal is pink! Although his albinism is no different from other animals on this list, Pinky is special because his skin is rather thin, and there are thousands of little capillaries under it. The fact that they’re so close to the surface of Pinky’s melanin-free skin makes them visible, giving the dolphin this majestic pink color.
Pinky the Dolphin was first discovered nearly 12 years ago. Since then there have been rumors that Pinky has produced offspring who also have albinism, however whether Pinky has any kids has not yet been officially confirmed.
White Giraffes :
Giraffes generally look somewhat weird with their long necks and skin legs. Add albinism into the mix and you get yourself a truly special creature! The white giraffe pictured above still has visible spots, however several other giraffes with albinism have been spotted over the years who have completely white skin with no signs of coloring whatsoever.
Moby Dick :
The famous Sperm Whale from Herman Melville’s famous novel was white. This means that the famous Sperm Whale from Moby Dick was likely a whale with albinism. The fact that this giant whale was white is what made him special and was, in a way, the cause of the novel’s protagonist’s obsession with catching the creature.
Even though Moby Dick was a fictional whale, he was based on a real albino sperm whale that was named Mocha Dick. Mocha Dick was killed in 1838. His body was 70 feet long.
What Is Albinism ?
It’s important to understand what causes albinism—and why it makes these animals so valuable to poachers and predators alike.
Albinism is a congenital disease that causes the partial or complete loss of pigmentation (or color) in an animal. Beginning in utero, certain genetic mutations prevent the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for the development of skin, fur, and eye color. Because these animals don’t have any melanin, they can have an all-white appearance, often with pinkish or very pale blue eyes. Every animal makes melanin—from mice, to koalas, to human beings—so, accordingly, any animal can have albinism.
Although albino animals are beautiful, their unique appearance makes survival in the wild difficult. Here’s why:
- Their rare, all-white or pale skins and coats are treasured by poachers around the world
- They lack camouflage, making them easier targets for natural predators in the wild
- They can be rejected by their families, social groups, and mates, due to their distinctly different appearances
Unsurprisingly, albino animals fare far better in captivity, where they can be protected from both poachers and predators.
Albino Caribou :
This albino caribou’s mystical appearance makes it look like a creature straight out of the Harry Potter series. And, considering his rarity, we might as well consider it a magical creature! There have only been a few sightings of albino caribou ever reported, mostly coming from the very remote Alaskan wilderness.
Albino Kangroos :
Did you know kangaroos outnumber Australian residents two to one? Although Australia has an abundance of kangaroos, albinos aren’t nearly as common.
While most albino kangaroos are kept in captivity, there have been reports of a wild, albino kangaroo just outside of Australia’s capital. Park rangers believe he’s about two years old, which is a true feat for an albino kangaroo—albinism predisposes them to hearing and vision issues, which can make life in Australia’s bushland extremely difficult.