I need to earn my stripes! Extremely rare albino zebra with no black markings on its back is spotted in Tanzania
- The animal has been spotted by wardens in a herd in Serengeti National Park
- At eight months old it is thought to be one of the most albino zebra ever seen
- While most zebra have strong black markings this one, called Ndasiata, does not
- Albinism is caused by a genetic defect meaning cells can’t produce melanin
This is the magical moment an extremely rare albino zebra was spotted roaming in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
The animal, which has been called Ndasiata by park wardens, can be seen displaying none of the usual black markings that make zebra so distinctive.
Instead it is covered almost entirely in white fur, with only a few faint black lines on its neck, head and body.
The majestic creature is thought to be eight months old and has been seen in the eastern part of the national park with a herd of zebra.
Excited wardens posted video and pictures of the animal on the Serengeti National Park Instragram page yesterday.
The albino zebra, pictured above, has taken melted the hearts of wardens and the public who visit the park in Tanzania
Albinism is when cells don’t produce melanin, a pigment that gives colour to skin, eyes, scales and hair.
This could prove problematic, as scientists have suggested the stripes on zebras help to camouflage them from predators, meaning Ndasiata could be at a disadvantage.
However, so far it seems to be doing relatively well in the idyllic environment of the park.
Virtually all mammals can be born albino and although reptiles, amphibians and lower vertebrates can also be albino they have other pigment cells in their bodies meaning they may not appear white.
Last year an extremely rare albino squirrel was caught on camera frolicking in a park in south London, wowing passers-by.
Meanwhile, an albino chimpanzee was spotted in the wild for the first time in Uganda in July 2018.
But tragically the poor animal, which was only 19 days old, was set upon by members of its pack and brutally killed.
Researchers have suggested the colour of its fur played a part in the horrific bout of violence, which ended with the baby chimpanzee dead after being attacked by multiple adults.
How does albinism affect animals?
Almost all animals can suffer from albinism, though it is usually a rare genetic defect.
The condition is caused when an animal inherits one or more mutated genes from both of its parents that disrupts its body’s production of melanin (the pigment that determines skin colour, fur colour and eye colour).
Reptiles and other non-mammals can also suffer from albinism but because they are able to produce other pigments they might not appear white.
An animal’s eyes shows whether they are albino or simply white in colour. Albino animals will have pinkish eyes because blood vessels that are usually covered with pigment are absent.
Albino animals often have poor eyesight which puts them at a disadvantage when hunting for food and avoiding danger.
It also makes them easier to hunt because they aren’t able to camouflage themselves.
Albino alligators are such obvious targets that they’re often eaten before they reach adulthood.
But some albino creatures manage to thrive in the wild. In Olney, Illinois, there is a population of nearly 100 albino squirrels.
Source: National Geographic
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