Rare White Giraffe 'Alive and Well' in Tanzania Park

But the unique animal could be at risk from poachers
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2016 2:44 PM CST
Rare White Giraffe 'Alive and Well' in Tanzania Park
Omo, a rare pale giraffe, was spotted this month in Tanzania.   (Wile Nature Institute)

A rare 15-month-old white giraffe has made another appearance in Tanzania, leaving conservationists to hope poachers don't decide to go all Ahab on it, the Telegraph reports. According to USA Today, the unique giraffe was spotted as a calf last year in Tarangire National Park. It was seen again this month, almost exactly a year later, the Wild Nature Institute writes in a blog post. "We are thrilled that she is still alive and well," the nonprofit states. A tour guide named the pale animal Omo after a local laundry detergent, but the institute is open to other suggestions.

Omo is leucistic, meaning most of her surface cells produce no pigment, explains the Wild Nature Institute. But unlike an albino, some of her cells—such as those in her eyes—can still manufacture color. The institute's founder, Dr. Derek Lee, tells the Telegraph that Omo is the only such giraffe they are aware of. “Omo appears to get along with the other giraffes; she has always been seen with a large group of normally colored giraffe," he says. "They don't seem to mind her different coloring.” But her uniqueness could make her a target for poachers, Lee says. The institute is currently working on anti-poaching efforts for all giraffes. “We hope that she lives a long life and that someday she has calves of her own,” says Lee. (Read more giraffes stories.)

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