In 2015 an oddity was first spotted in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park. A newborn giraffe was reported, and she was dubbed Omo by a park ranger. The reason that Omo caused such a stir in Tanzania is that she looks a bit different from the other giraffes she shares the park with. This is because Omo is leucistic.
All grown up, Omo has begun attracting some media attention due to her leucism. Now, leucism isn’t some terrifying disease or innately harmful abnormality, but just a genetic condition that causes her skin cells to not produce any pigmentation. Pigmentation is what gives skin cells their color. Some people may mistakenly call Omo an albino giraffe, but leucism is actually different. Albinism causes a creature to lack pigmentation in all of it’s cells, where as leucism only affects some cells. This means that her soft tissue still has some pigment, in other less wordy words, she has darker eyes.
Now while this may seem like a beautiful marvel, it is actually very dangerous. Not because of how the condition can affect her health but because giraffes in Tanzania are already at risk for being poached, and a beautiful white coat could attract all the more attention. But Omo has made it far, having already survived her first year of life, something that only half of all giraffes born can accomplish.
So beautiful, not-so-little, Omo, we wish you luck on the long journey ahead of you, and hope that being named after African detergent doesn’t get you down. Don’t fret being different! Because girl, that’s what makes you beautiful.