<p>This rare albino gray kangaroo lives at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. </p>

This rare albino gray kangaroo lives at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark

Albino animals, explained

Albino animals don't have it easy; their whiteness makes them prime targets for predators.

Although rare in nature, albino animals have been spotted everywhere from the skies to the seas. These unique creatures have partial or complete loss of pigmentation, hence their pale skin tone compared to other members of their species. Even though the birth of an albino animal is considered a sacred or auspicious event in some cultures, research suggests that some albino animals have difficulty in the wild.

In mammals, albinism occurs when an individual inherits one or more mutated genes from both parents that interfere with the body’s production of melanin, the main pigment that determines the color of skin, fur, and eyes. The production of melanin occurs within melanocytes, specialized cells that are present but not fully

DON'T MISS THE REST OF THIS STORY!
Create a free account to continue and get unlimited access to hundreds of Nat Geo articles, plus newsletters.

Create your free account to continue reading

No credit card required. Unlimited access to free content.
Or get a Premium Subscription to access the best of Nat Geo - just $19
SUBSCRIBE

Read This Next

Is banning fishing bad for fishermen? Not in this marine reserve
SeaWorld allegedly violated the Animal Welfare Act. Why is it still open?
'World’s worst shipwreck' was bloodier than we thought

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet