Extremely Rare Albino Tortoise Born at Zoo

Animals

| LAST UPDATE 06/14/2022

By Stanley Wickens
Galapagos albino tortoise birth
Instagram via @tropiquarium_de_servion

Every now and then, nature surprises us with something we didn't quite expect to see. The world recently got to see another one of these surprises, when a giant tortoise gave birth to an albino baby...

Two newcomers to the world recently hatched at Tropiquarium, a zoo in Servion, Switzerland - and they looked a lot more different than siblings normally do. Out of one egg, a tiny dark-colored tortoise emerged, while the other hatched an equally tiny but light-skinned baby with a rather pale shell. This baby's pigmentless skin appears to have been caused by a genetic disorder known as albinism. According to zookeepers, the odds of an albino tortoise are 1 in 100,000.  

albino tortoise siblings hatched
Instagram via @tropiquarium_de_servion
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The egg that hatched this extremely rare baby tortoise was laid by a 220-pound female on Feb. 11, less than three months before it hatched. The baby tortoises each weighed just 1.8 ounces when they were born and were cared for by zookeepers in incubators for the first month of their lives before they were able to be reunited with their mother. "We were surprised to discover an albino baby," zoo staff wrote in a statement. "This is the first time in the world that an albino Galápagos tortoise has been born and kept in captivity," they said, adding that there have been no documented cases in the wild. Not only that, but the team also hypothesizes that an albino tortoise can be nearly five times rarer than the birth of an albino human, which National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation reports to be around 1 in 20,000 people. Since albino animals can't produce melanin, the result is that these animals have skin, fur, feathers, eyes, and shells with no color. Their eye color usually appears to be red, matching the color of the blood vessels below the eye's surface.

Galápagos giant tortoises are the largest of their species on Earth, and normally have a lifespan of more than 100 years in the wild. However, experts still aren't sure how long the albino tortoise may live, since it may be more vulnerable than its family members to the sun's ultraviolet rays. Not only that, but it's more susceptible to other health issues such as reduced vision and hearing difficulties. However, if cared for in captivity, our little white tortoise may have a better chance at living a longer life! Be sure to stay tuned for more animal news...

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