Albino penguin with siblings at Gdansk Zoo via
There are two important things going for the albino African penguin born at the Gdansk Zoo in December: his colony accepts him, and he's in a protective environment.
(Pardon me for using the pronoun 'he.' In fact, 'his' sex has not yet been determined, nor has 'he' been given a name. I just can't bring myself to call this lovely bird an 'it.')
Albino penguin at Gdansk Zoo via
Albino birds are rare; ornithologists estimate there are only 1 in 180,000 birds of all bird species born albino, but information about specific breeds is not available. Albino birds are recognized by their total lack of pigment, including eye pigment (thus, the pink-tinged eye color). Albinos are typically rejected by their parents and siblings because they are recognized as different from the rest of the colony. In the wild, albino birds are easy prey because they are so easy to spot and, if they are not hunted, they tend to succumb to skin diseases and failure of internal organs.
But at Poland's Gdansk Zoo, the as yet 'nameless' all white penguin will have the best life possible, where his health will be monitored by veterinarians and zookeepers and he'll be integrated with his siblings into a flock of about 70 other penguins at the Zoo. Below, the youngster albino looks a bit shy, but it's his first day out!
African penguins are found in the south and southwestern corner of Africa. They are known for their raucous calls and thus are nicknamed the "jackass penguins," but each member of a colony has a distinct call so they can be recognized by their companions.
We'll track this penguin's progress.