Extremely rare, extremely cool white giraffe spotted in Tanzania

Omo really is one of a kind. The very rare white giraffe has been spotted – twice – by scientists, who are in the midst of a study of the animals in the wild around Tarangire National Park in Tanzania.

“Leucistic Giraffe Alive and Well in Tarangire,” Wild Nature Institute boasted a recent blog post.

And, rightly so. Leucism occurs when some or all of the cells that make pigment, fail to develop, which means some – or all – of the body lacks cells capable of making colour. White giraffes have been photographed in Kruger National Park in recent years, but they are hardly common.

The non-profit institute has been watching giraffes in Tanzania for years, cataloguing the patterns on the fur of about 2,100 individual giraffes. A year ago, officials were lucky enough to see a “stunning” leucistic giraffe calf.

Omo on Jan. 17, 2015/Wild Nature Instiute
Omo on Jan. 17, 2015/Wild Nature Institute

And again now, a year later.

Omo on Jan. 16, 2016/Wild Nature Institute
Omo on Jan. 16, 2016/Wild Nature Institute

“Last year we reported on our blog our sighting of a beautiful leucistic giraffe calf in Tarangire National Park,” the group wrote on its blog. “Her body surface cells are not capable of making pigment, but she is not an albino. We were lucky enough to resight her again this January, almost exactly one year later. We are thrilled that she is still alive and well.”

Still, some have raised fears about the prospect of poaching the unique creature.

Meantime, the group is carrying on the largest giraffe demography project, monitoring thousands of the animals throughout their lifetimes spread over 4,000-square-kilometres.

Oh, about the white giraffe’s name?

A local lodge guide christened her Omo, after a popular local brand of detergent. But the group is still taking suggestions for a name. People have offered everything from “Icicle” to “Talcum” and “Ziggy Stardust.”

Photos Wild Nature Institute


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Recovering newspaper reporter.


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