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Two white giraffes with a rare genetic condition have been spotted in Kenya

Staff writers, September 17, 2017 5:29PM News Corp Australia

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White giraffes with leucism in Kenya. Picture: supplied media_cameraWhite giraffes with leucism in Kenya. Picture: supplied

animals

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Two white giraffes have caused a stir after they were spotted in Kenya.

The mother and calf were first spied by locals in the African nation in June, with word quickly spreading about the tall, ghostly mammals.

Soon, Kenya’s Hirola Conservation Program (HCP) sought to verify* the sightings.

In August, a team of conservationists managed to track the pair down near the Ishaqbini conservation park in Garissa, eastern Kenya.

“We hurriedly headed to the scene as soon as we got the news. And there, right in front of us, was the so hyped* ‘white giraffe’ of Ishaqbini conservancy!” a HCP blog reads.

Mum seemed aware that the unusual colouring of her calf and herself left them somewhat exposed.

“The mother kept pacing back and forth a few yards in front of us while signalling the baby giraffe to hide behind the bushes,” the HCP’s blog reports.

Soon the pair both slipped back into the bush.

But not before HCP’s conservationists had caught photographic and video evidence of their condition.

The rare giraffes are not albinos — a condition which strips all pigment* out of an animal’s skin and is recognisable through pink eyes.

Instead, they have a genetic condition called leucism.

Here, pigment remains in key parts of their body — such as the eyes and nose — but it is absent in skin and fur.

Leucism can affect other animals, including tigers, peacocks and crocodiles.

White lion cubs with leucism. Picture: AFP media_cameraWhite lion cubs with leucism. Picture: AFP

GLOSSARY

  • verify: make sure it was true
  • hyped: talked about
  • pigment: colour

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CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Finding the white giraffes
Imagine you were a member of the conservation team sent to track down the white giraffes. Write a journal entry documenting your experience on the day that you found them.

Extension
Write down three new and interesting things you learnt from reading this news article.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English

2. A giraffe’s spots
The article tells us that the mother giraffe seemed aware the unusual colouring of her calf and herself left them somewhat exposed. This is because the usual colouring of giraffes acts as a form of camouflage.  Research animal camouflage and write a paragraph explains how giraffe’s spots help it blend into its surroundings. Include examples of other animals that use camouflage.

Draw pictures of each of the mentioned animals in their natural environment.

Extension
Make a list of as many animals as you can that use camouflage.
Decide on some categories for your animals and sort them into these categories.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Science

VCOP ACTIVITY
Ask me, ask me
Asking questions is a key to better understanding topics and generating discussion is the classroom.
Come up with a question about white giraffes for each of the following question openers.

  • Can
  • Are
  • Do
  • How
  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Why

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Big Write, VCOP

EXTRA RESOURCES

TASMANIAN TIGER ‘PROOF’ ON FILM

WELCOMING A RARE WHITE KOALA

CAPTURING OUR WONDERFUL, WILD WORLD

KOALA CANOES TO SAFETY

CROC HUNTER’S BIG CATCH GOES VIRAL

IN A SENTENCE, SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON TODAY’S STORY
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Extra Reading in animals