Thought Bubbles

Rare White Giraffes Spotted in Kenya!

In the last post, I focused on Kenya’s recently implemented ban on single-use plastic bags in an effort to protect the wildlife. I wanted to stay with the topic of wildlife in Kenya for a moment to tell you about very special animals that were recently caught on video.

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Have you ever heard of leucistic animals before? I didn’t until I read an article from the New York Times about a pure white giraffe and her baby that were caught on video for the first time. This article showed me a whole new world of information that I had no clue existed!

This white giraffe and her baby are the first giraffes with leucism to be caught on video. They were sighted in Kenya in late June and have been making headlines around the world! People have seen a few leucistic giraffes before, but never on video.

Picture taken by the Hirola Conservation Program

Leucism is a genetic condition that inhibits pigmentation in an animal’s skin cells. It’s different from albinism. Animals with albinism make no melanin throughout the body. But, animals with leucism can have darker pigment in their soft tissue and normal eye color. As a baby,  the animal is not completely white. Once they get older,  he/she becomes more white as their skin pigment fades with time.

 

Many other animals have leucism like moose, peacocks, and lions.  But, they are at a disadvantage because they can’t camouflage, absorb the UV rays, or stalk prey as well.  Leucistic animals rarely survive to adulthood 

Picture taken by: Fred Tanneau/Agence France Presse — Getty Images

All around the world there are beliefs of magic or fortune in leucistic animals. Native Americans, and the Sioux Nation in particular believe, if you hunt an albino/leucistic animal, you’ll be cursed and lose your hunting or survival skills. In certain instances, they are thought to be magical and bring good luck,  such as rain in a time of drought and a bountiful crop harvest. But in others, they’re seen as an omen and a warning about natural disasters to come.

 

Photo taken by: CreditTT News Agency

 

It’s really interesting what people believe in – whether it’s the meaning of leucistic animals or putting crosses in brussel sprouts. Whether or not these animals are here to tell us something, they sure are amazing to look at! 🙂

Have you ever seen an animal with leucism before? Post your sightings in the comments below!

 

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6 Comments

  1. natalie dente September 28, 2017

    Hi Anna, what an interesting article. I never have seen an unusually white animal. Seeing your pictures was thrilling.. I know the giraffes will be safer than the white lions especially young ones. But hopefully they will deal with their unique problems. Keep reading articles about unusual animals and keep us posted. love Grandma N

  2. Uncle Angelo October 1, 2017

    Wow! I had no idea either – thanks for letting me know. Is that moose really real? i can’t believe the antlers are white too!

  3. Kerstin Calia October 2, 2017

    That is very interesting and they are beautiful animals. There was a neat article in National Geographic a few years ago about Ghost Bears in the Pacific Northwest. They are Leucistic brown bears. There is a local population.

    I have seen the opposite here- we had a melanistic squirrel in the back yard for a while. I don’t know if it had the same sort of short life span I think squirrels have or if the red tailed hawk who lives around here got him early. But the squirrel was entirely black- and stood out more than they gray ones in my back yard (which is mostly gray beech trees.)

  4. donna October 6, 2017

    I’m wondering what condition Ivy the horse has (Oliver’s next door neighbor). She looks Albino because her eyes are pink but she has black in her tail. I think I’ll ask Shannon next time we’re up at the barn.

    That moose is really cool looking. So beautiful. I can only imagine what it would be like to see any of those animals in person.

  5. Debbie October 11, 2017

    What amazing and beautiful animals! I didn’t know the difference between albino and leucistic until reading your post. Thank you for sharing. I do remember seeing albino horses (identified by the pink eyes), but never leucitic animals. Really cool!!
    xo Aunt D

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