A giraffe at Soyasmbu Conservancy – northwest of Gilgil, Rift Valley Province, has been recorded to be turning white over 6 years period. The rare skin condition called vitiligo, leads to the skin gradually losing its pigment and is best associated with former pop icon Michael Jackson.
The case is the first of its kind as explained by Zoe Muller at the University of Bristol, who documented the changes.
“There have been a few reports of white giraffes before in the wild,” says Muller. “But those animals are either albino or leucistic – genetic conditions – which means they are born white and have been that way for their entire life. There has never been a documented case of a giraffe turning white over time.”
Muller expects the giraffe to whiten even further (bleach free), as the skin parts with more natural giraffe pigmentation whiten and the white spots become even lighter.
The giraffe’s conspicuous coating could however make him more easily spotted by predators.
Watch the video below.