The tale of the white giraffe

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The tale of the white giraffe

Tatiana A. Dias
September 18th, 2017
news@challenge.org

Last week, news went viral when two white giraffes were spotted in Kenya — a totally white female and her calf. The baby giraffe’s spots are still faintly visible but will disappear as it gets older. Although bright white giraffes aren’t extremely common, these are not the first to be seen.

 

These creatures look like they have come straight from a fairy tale. And it’s not very difficult to imagine why! It’s like someone drew them on the landscape and forgot to colour them in! You may be wondering why the animals have their ghostly appearance? Well, it is down to something called leucism.

 

Leucism vs Albinism

Leucism is the loss of multiple types of pigment from an animal’s skin, hair, or scales, but not the eyes like albinism. The two also differ in that leucism is a loss of colour, whereas albinos never had the colour form in the first place.  Because of this, leucistic animals can have dark eyes, whereas albinos usually have their characteristic pink ones.

 

Being bright white in the wild can put the animals at a disadvantage. Camouflage is what animals use to survive. When they are entirely white, animals are easier to spot by predators. Albino animals are also more likely to develop skin cancer because they are more sensitive to sunlight.

 

These elusive white giraffes are definitely amazing! Are you curious to learn more about them? We surely are and will keep an eye on the latest updates.

 

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“ Camouflage is what animals use to survive. ”

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