Great White! 7 Albino Wonders of the Animal World
Albinism, the condition that causes a creature to become an albino, is caused by recessive genes inherited from both the animal’s parents. Almost any type of animal can display albinism, even invertebrates like crabs and jellyfish. Here are 7 amazing albino animals that definitely qualify as wonders, am I white?
There are only about a dozen white alligators in the world and not all of them are strictly albinos. Bouya Blan (White Fog), above bottom, is a 22-year old leucistic alligator who lives at Gatorland in Florida. Leucistic animals have some, though very little pigmentation as can be seen in Bouya Blan’s icy blue eyes.
(image via: All Hat No Cattle)
From the bayou to the big time! “White Diamond” was born in Louisiana but wows crowds at Germany’s Serengeti Safari Park these days. The 15-year-old albinistic variant of Alligator mississppiensis is the only albino alligator in Europe. Judging by his toothy grin, you won’t want to tickle those ivories!
Snakes can display varying degrees of albinism and their skin will range from snow white to what looks like an image printed from a copier that’s running low on color ink. As stealth hunters, albino snakes are at a huge disadvantage in the wild and rarely live for very long.
(image via: Bluecavs)
The double-headed albino snake above was born double-unlucky and it’s a wonder it managed to grow at all. Likely the snake hatched in captivity and has been carefully monitored by its owner. One problem (out of many) two-headed snakes have is that the heads will often attack one another. At least the above specimen’s heads split off the body at a narrow angle, mitigating the problem.
Looking a lot like a scraggly chicken with its fan-like tail feathers folded, the albino peacock (and its all-white, non-albinistic variant above) becomes the price of poulty when it puts on a classic mating display to impress the lady peahens – and any other living thing in range.
(image via: Frakin Cool)
Who could imagine the male peacock, the poster-child for brilliant color and former mascot for the NBC television network, would look just as magnificent (if not more) as an albino decked out in lacy white plumage?
Better to burn out than fade away? Fine for Neil Young maybe but not for the albino zebra. It appears that in zebras, albinism displays as a range of severity that preserves much of the animal’s natural black & white striped pattern.
(image via: Asquared185)
Though they tend to stand out in the presence of normal zebras, most albino variants show a softer, tawnier coat that could possibly be MORE effective as camouflage on the dry, dusty savannah.
(image via: Uncommonpics)
A completely white zebra would be virtually indistinguishable from a white horse. The above image depicts the result of a mating between a white horse and a non-albinistic zebra – truly a “zorse” of a different color!
As the only albino gorilla to be raised in captivity, Snowflake delighted visitors for nearly 40 years before dying of skin cancer in late 2003. Most gorillas only live about 25 years in the wild so Snowflake definitely beat the odds. Over the course of his adult life, Snowflake fathered 22 offspring though none of them shared his albinism.
Here’s a short video of Snowflake taken at his home in the Barcelona Zoo:
(images via: Totally Looks Like)
In many ways, Snowflake looks more human than gorilla – perhaps because most of us have nothing else to compare him to. Contributors to the website TotallyLooksLike.com have picked up on this and have featured Snowflake not once, but twice.
(image via: Scholastic)
Albino dolphins were first sighted in 1962 and since 1994 three have been seen frolicking in or around the Gulf of Mexico. The latest is “Pinky”, a bottlenose dolphin of the Flipper variety that lives in Louisiana’s Lake Calcasieu. What’s up with Louisiana anyway? First albino alligators, now… in any case, Pinky is as pink as, well, the pink dolphin contestants on MXC must leap over while navigating the Rotating Surfboard of Death. Pinky owes her (his?) very unusual hue to blood vessels showing through blubber and unpigmented skin. If you think the pink dolphin has become a local tourist attraction, I’d say “Right you are, Kenny”.
Other types of dolphins have been known to display albinism, most notably the not-so-cute; not-so-pink albino dolphins living in Brazil’s Amazon River. That’s Amazon Pinky above left, American Pinky to the right… let the “USA!” chants begin!
I see your Great White Shark and I raise you a Great White Whale! Albino whales are rare but not exceedingly so – then again, something that big and that white is going to attract a lot of attention. Take Migaloo, for instance. Frequenting the chill waters of the southern ocean around Australia, Migaloo is an albino Humpback Whale. Other whale species such as the Beluga are normally white and an albino would only be detected by very close examination of its eyes.
(image via: Sharkdivers)
By the way, there really is a Great White Whale Shark – a 30-foot, one-of-a-kind (as far as we know) female was photographed by diver/naturalist Antonio Moreano in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Galapagos Islands.
Any discussion of white whales (or albinos in general) would be lacking without mention of the legendary Moby Dick, the cetacean scourge of maniacal Captain Ahab in the nineteenth century novel by Herman Melville and the 1956 epic film starring Gregory Peck. While Moby Dick was fictional, Melville likely based his character on a very real albino whale called Mocha Dick, who destroyed numerous whaling ships and whaleboats in the area of the Mocha Islands off Chile in the early decades of the 1800s. Mocha Dick was estimated to have been 70 feet long when he was finally killed and yes, his snow-white back was festooned with harpoons – though no furious, peg-legged sea captains were found among them.
The lack of skin pigmentation that is the distinctive characteristic of albinism and that gives these animals special appeal to humans is actually a drawback in the wild, since without visual camouflage they’re much more visible to predators and potential prey. Some may bemoan their perceived lack of freedom but in actuality, the safest place for these wonders of nature is in the “protective custody” of zoos.