JUN 17, 2016 11:56 AM PDT

Rare Case of Vitiligo Documented in a Giraffe

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Vitiligo is a skin condition that can cause the skin to lose its natural pigmentation color in blotches, which then grow to larger surface areas. The condition can also have an extensive effect on the surrounding hair.
 
One of the most well-known documented cases of vitiligo was in the late popular pop singer Michael Jackson, but for the first time, this skin condition has been reported in a giraffe in the Soysambu Conservancy in Kenya. The findings appear in the African Journal of Ecology.
 

Image Credit: Wikipedia

There have been recorded instances of giraffes with leucistic or albino qualities before, but these are totally different from a giraffe with vitiligo because leucistic or albino animals are born white, while those with vitiligo turn white over time.
 
"There have been a few reports of white giraffes before in the wild, but those animals are either albino or leucistic, which means they are born white and have been that way for their entire life,” says Zoe Muller of the Rothschild’s Giraffe Project and the University of Bristol, UK. “There has never been a documented case of a giraffe turning white over time.”

“I first started to see a few white spots appear on the animal’s coat back in November 2009, and was puzzled as I had never seen this before,” she continued.

The documented case of vitiligo in this particular giraffe is believed to be because of a skin infection that has gradually gotten worse over the course of several years. The animal’s appearance is becoming more defined as time goes by.

White animals, such as those with leucism or albinism, tend to live shorter lives because they’re more easily targeted by predators or suffer conditions from the Sun’s harmful rays. In this case, the animal is still half white and half normal-colored for now, but some day it’ll be no more protected than any other case of animal with leucism or albinism.

Source: New Scientist, Wikipedia

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 05, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Drop in CO2 Linked to Climate Change 34 Million Years Ago
AUG 05, 2021
Drop in CO2 Linked to Climate Change 34 Million Years Ago
A decline in the concentration of atmospheric CO2 drove the Earth’s climate to change from warm to ice-cold around ...
AUG 13, 2021
Earth & The Environment
As Above, So Below: Restoring Wetlands and Mapping Watersheds
AUG 13, 2021
As Above, So Below: Restoring Wetlands and Mapping Watersheds
Water is essential for all life on earth, and much of it is stored in wetlands. Biodiversity is high in wetlands, often ...
AUG 30, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Arctic Could Be "Practically Ice Free" Before 2050
AUG 30, 2021
Arctic Could Be "Practically Ice Free" Before 2050
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) recent physical climate science report details the ...
SEP 07, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Genetic Influences That Help Make the Human Brain Unique
SEP 07, 2021
Genetic Influences That Help Make the Human Brain Unique
For years, many researchers have been trying to answer the question "What makes us human?" from both a biological and ph ...
SEP 08, 2021
Plants & Animals
Eating Avocados May Change How the Body Stores Belly Fat
SEP 08, 2021
Eating Avocados May Change How the Body Stores Belly Fat
Though humans have eaten them for thousands of years, avocados have recently been hailed as a “superfood,” a ...
SEP 21, 2021
Plants & Animals
Increasing Production of Aquatic "Blue" Foods Promotes Sustainable Access To Healthier Diets
SEP 21, 2021
Increasing Production of Aquatic "Blue" Foods Promotes Sustainable Access To Healthier Diets
What is a “blue” food? Hint: it doesn’t mean foods that are blue in color.  “Blue” fo ...
Loading Comments...