10 Amazing Animal Mutants
Albinism (from the Latin “Albus”, which means “white”) is a genetic defect whereby the melanin production is so little that it produces white pigmentation in the skin, hair, and eyes—a development which results in what scientists like to call “animal mutants.”
But not all white animals are albino, of course. An animal can be white because all of its pigment-producing cells are white—rather than merely the melanin ones. The true characteristic of an albino is its pink or red eyes, which appear so due to the capillaries showing through. Here are ten interesting cases of mutation or albinism in animals:
Okay, so the jury seems to be out on whether an albino giraffe exists or not. Some say that only white animals have been seen, and no true albinos.
Apparently a stuffed one is displayed in “Ripley’s Believe it or Not”. I’ve added this animal to the list as it’s such a beautiful creature and deserves to be shared.
In 2012, scientists carrying out a census of the local salt water crocodile population at the Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha, India, noticed several examples of albinism in the murky waters. A homage to the hunting skills of these animals is that they were able to thrive even though they were a stunning white in color.
The uber-sexy sounding White Diamond is an albino alligator thought to have been the only example of its kind in Europe. He was exhibited as part of a traveling show called “Land der Reptilien.” But not all white alligators are albino. An alligator called White Fog was was a leucistic alligator. Leucistic animals lack the color normally associated with their species, but are not true albinos.
A garden in West Lothian, Scotland, became a regular feeding ground for Arthur, the Grey “albino” Squirrel. He appeared one winter, and bearing in mind the snowfall attributed annually to this area of Scotland, it’s a wonder he was spotted at all.
It’s straight out of a Disney movie. Orphaned, alone, weighing only three hundred grams, suffering from a lung complaint, near death and in desperate need of a helping hand we have: Snowball, the Albino Hedgehog. Snowball was rescued and restored to fitness at the famous Tiggywinkles hedgehog sanctuary in Buckinghamshire, England. All this happened just around Christmas. Why has no one made a Disney film about this yet?
In 2012, the Yalta Zoo in the Ukraine took ownership of not one white lion cub, but five! Three of them were born in a safari park, and the other two at another, smaller zoo in the same city of Yalta. White lions are not classed as albinos as their reduced pigmentation is caused by a recessive gene seen in both parents known as the color inhibitor gene. A very rare occurrence all the same, and even the more amazing considering the number of these cubs born at the same time in the same region.
Surely, the peacock is one of the most spectacular birds you’ll see—and this is especially so when that bird happens to be white. This animal is not albino, and is in fact a variety of the Indian Blue. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to see at Kim Kardashian’s wedding.
This albino camel is incredibly rare. At one time thought to be one of only four in the entire world, Ula was born to a normally pigmented mother at the Jindera stud farm in New South Wales, Australia. Newborn camels are often white, but generally they change to a brown colour as they grow up.
Siegfried and Roy knew they had hit white gold when they decided to include white tigers in their magic acts in Vegas. That is, at least until one of the big cats got really fed up and announced “Hey! Wild animal here!” White tigers were then replaced with white hospital walls for Roy. White tigers are not true albinos, though. This is indicated by the black stripes; but even the ones with lighter colored stripes are examples of offspring from parents with a recessive gene, much the same as the lions we mentioned earlier.
Question: When is a green turtle white? Answer: When it’s Minty, the White Green Turtle. Minty was housed at Reef HQ in Townsville, Australia. His short life came to an end after only a year in captivity, when he was found at the bottom of his tank. To this day his death remains a mystery. Minty was a leucistic animal and not a strict albino. Rest in peace, Minty.
The gently-named Snowflake was unique to the gorilla world. Snowflake was the only known albino gorilla ever seen, and spent his time at the Barcelona Zoo in Spain. He lived a long life, eventually succumbing to an unusual form of skin cancer. Thousands flocked to the zoo to see him in his last months, where he’d become a phenomenon and obviously one of the main attractions. He fathered twenty-two offspring, seeing only six make it to adulthood—and not one of them shared his amazing skin tone.
I feel for this little critter, who was given the creepy name of “Ghost Boy” by his carers at the San Diego Zoo. Their surprise was complete when, after six months spent in his mother’s womb, he popped his head out and looked around with startling pink eyes. Both parents are normal color and it’s thought that he’s the only albino koala in captivity anywhere in the world.