Giraffes are well-recognized creatures because of their iconic long necks, but they're also notorious for having a colored reticulate pattern throughout their fur.
In rare cases, however, a giraffe may appear eerily pale, like the ones illustrated below:
Image Credit: Hirola Conservation Program/Caters
What you’re looking at here are a couple of leucistic giraffes spotted by a Kenyan villager earlier this year. The photograph shows both a calf and its mother wandering the woods, along with a normally-colored giraffe lurking in the background.
Kenyan conservation rangers captured HD video footage after being tipped off by the villager. They note that you can just barely make out the reticulates in the leucistic calf's fur, which highlights how the disorder more heavily impacted the mother than the calf.
“While observing the magnificent long-necked animal looking at us, I could not help but see the fading reticulates on their skin,” they said. “It was evident that the coloration, especially on the mother giraffe, was not as conspicuous as the baby.”
The creatures appear stark white because their bodies lack a number of pigments that most giraffes have. It's these pigments that give the animals their usual color, but because these specimens lack them, their bodies exhibit an unusual color instead.
Worthy of note, leucism is commonly confused with albinism, and while both disorders are similar in some ways, there’s a significant difference between the two.
Albino animals lack the lone pigment melanin, which causes pale features in the skin, feathers, fur, and the eyes. On the contrary, leucistic animals have a partial loss of numerous pigments, which impacts the color of similar bodily features, but not the eyes.
Both disorders are disadvantageous for wild animals because many rely on their natural colors to blend in with their surroundings. As you might expect, having bright-white bodies as these leucistic giraffes have makes them bigger targets for predation.
Although leucistic giraffes have been photographed previously, this is thought to be some of the first video footage of such animals ever captured. The major feat is exciting for both animal conservationists and lovers alike.