World's Only Known Albino Gorilla, Snowflake, Came From Inbreeding (Video)

First Posted: Jun 14, 2013 02:30 PM EDT

A recent study regarding the only known albino gorilla, Snowflake, shows that this creature was likely a product of inbreeding, with information that Snowflake's sequenced genome markers indicating that the animal's parents were closely related.

Research regarding the study even suggests that Snowflake's parents may have been a grandparent and grandchild, half-siblings, or an uncle/aunt and niece/nephew pair.

This gorilla was a Western Lowland animal who was found by farmers in Equatorial Guinea in 1966.

After farmers killed a pack of gorillas who had been consuming crops, they noticed a pure white baby gorilla was hanging on to its mother's dead body, according to the Barcelona Zoo's biography of Snowflake.

The animal was sold to a professor from Barcelona, who later coordinated with other researchers to study the rarity of the gorilla.

They determined that he had oculocutaneous albinism, which means that he has white hair and pink skin, including very light eyes and trouble with vision.

Following a period of adaptation, Snowflake was sent to the Barcelona Zoo, where he lived for approximately 40 years and fathered 22 offspring, none of which were albino.

However, in 2001, he began suffering from skin cancer, and was euthanized a few years later in 2003.

The research from the study shows what researchers believe is the first genetic evidence of inbreeding in this species of gorilla.

The researchers reported their findings May 31 in the journal BMC Genomics.

Want to see Snowflake in action? Check out this video, courtesy of YouTube.

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