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.
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.
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.
Migaloo the Humpback Whale
Mocha certainly wasn’t the last big whale with albinism. The albino dolphin of our times is named Migaloo, and he is a humpback whale with albinism. This whale has been studied and followed since 1989, and at the time of me writing this, it will soon be 30 years since Migaloo was first spotted. Of the nearly 35,000 humpback whales that live off the coast of Eastern Australia — Migaloo is the only humpback whale with albinism. This just goes to show how rare this condition is, and how special that makes Migaloo.
Snowflake the Gorilla
Snowflake the Gorilla lived in a zoo in Barcelona from 1966 until he died in 2003. He was a Western lowland gorilla with albinism who was captured in Equatorial Guinea in 1966. During his time in the Barcelona zoo, Snowflake produced 22 different offspring. However, only six of them survived into adulthood. Albinism in and of itself is not a cause for concern, however it is often accompanied by genetic defects that may cause problems with the healthy operation of other parts of an animal’s body. Some of these defects may have been transferred to Snowflake’s offspring, significantly reducing their chances of survival into adulthood.
Snowdrop the Penguin
In my humble opinion, naming animals with albinism “snowflake” or “snowdrop” or “snowball” is somewhat lazy. We all know that snow is white, but can the zookeepers and scientists not come up with a more original name?
Snowdrop the Penguin lived in a zoo in Bristol, England. His albinism did not affect his ability to be accepted by the rest of the penguins in the zoo, and Snowdrop lived a happy (albeit short) life with his tuxedo-wearing penguin buddies.
Onya-Birri the Koala
Onya-Birri was born in 1977 in the San Diego zoo, which caused quite the hubbub at the time. Onya-Birri has a significantly cooler name than Snowdrop and Snowflake. His name means “ghost boy” in the Aborigine language. Although it is possible for any animal to be born with albinism, just like the panda at the beginning of this article — Onya-Birri is the only albino koala that has been seen.
For a while, many people who saw this bird were convinced that it’s just a seagull. However, upon closer inspection it was discovered that this was actually a jackdaw bird with albinism. He was spotted in South Wales and named “Jackie” by the locals and by the scientists who studied him.
Claude the Alligator
Claude the Alligator is my personal favorite famous animal with albinism. Of the 10 creatures on this list, Claude looks (by far) the coolest. Claude was born on September 15, 1995. He’s 23 now. He is an “exhibit” at the California Academy of Sciences where he has been living for nearly 20 years. His chances of surviving in the wild were slim because it was nearly impossible for him to blend in with his environment.