Extremely Rare White Giraffe Spotted in Tanzania
The distinctive animal has a condition called leucism that results in loss of pigmentation.
An extremely rare white giraffe has been spotted at Tarangire National Park in Tanzania.
The giraffe calf has a condition called leucism that results in loss of pigmentation. "Her body surface cells are not capable of making pigment, but she is not an albino," explained the Wild Nature Institute, in a blog post.
A guide named the giraffe Omo after a popular brand of local detergent.
Experts at the Wild Nature Institute first spotted Omo last year. "We were lucky enough to resight her again this January, almost exactly one year later," the Institute explained, in its blog post. "We are thrilled that she is still alive and well."
Leucism occurs when some or all pigment cells fail to develop during differentiation, so part or all of the animal's body surface lacks cells capable of making pigment. "One way to tell the difference between albino and leucistic animals is that albino individuals lack melanin everywhere, including in the eyes, so the resulting eye color is red from the underlying blood vessels," explained the Institute.
" is simply a rare genetic condition – drawing four aces in a row from a deck of cards is also a rare occurrence," noted Derek Lee, quantitative ecologist at the World Nature Institute, in an email to FoxNews.com. "Whether a mutation affecting coloration, such as leucism, is adaptive or not over evolutionary time will require continued observations."
Omo's unusual coloration, however, has prompted fears that she could become a target for poachers.
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If you're in need of a vacation experience outside the typical bed and breakfast or hotel scene, look no further than Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya. There are currently nine Rothschild giraffes at the manor, one of the most endangered species of giraffe in the world. Above, a young girl at Giraffe Manor prepares to feed a manor resident. Get the
Giraffe Manor is equipped with tasty giraffe treats in pellet form, all throughout the grounds. The treats will become especially useful during mealtimes when the giraffes will often poke their heads through the dining room window.
A giraffe looms over a small children who looks up and admires it. "The opportunity to get so up close and personal with these animals is really amazing," said Washington-based photographer Robin Mur. "The giraffes have such large expressive eyes and they’re such soulful creatures you really get a sense of that when you're up close."
Three Rothschild giraffes roam around the 150 acres that belong to Giraffe Manor. Close to the mansion, other forms of wildlife can be seen at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, including baby elephants that eat and splash around in mud pits during the day.
Located in the suburbs of Nairobi, Kenya, the sanctuary was established in 1974. A successful breeding program supports Rothschild giraffes in the wild. To help fund the project, the sanctuary owners also run the hotel where guests can interact with the long-necked creatures.
"There are nine different subspecies of giraffes and the Rothschilds are one of the most endangered with only a few hundred individuals left," Mur said. "Not many people realize that giraffes are also highly endangered and their numbers have plummeted in recent years."