This fabulously rare white giraffe is 15-month-old, lives in the Tanzania National Park, and was, apparently, named after a detergent brand.
According to scientists, Omo is not albino but leucistic — a condition in which several skin cells do not produce pigment, causing it to appear white. Wikipedia says what leucism (occasionally spelled leukism) is a general term for the phenotype resulting from defects in pigment cell differentiation and/or migration from the neural crest to skin, hair, or feathers during development. This results in either the entire surface (if all pigment cells fail to develop) or patches of body surface (if only a subset are defective) having a lack of cells capable of making pigment.
Albinoism and leucitism are different because one results in a COMPLETE ABSENSE of all pigmentation and melanin in the skin, hair, and feathers and the other is only partial, though usually majority, absence. One way you can tell the difference is by looking at the eyes: albino animals (and humans) have pink eyes due to the complete lack of pigmentation. The eyes of leucistic or partially leucistic animals and humans are normal color for their type.
Ecologist Dr. Derek Lee told The Telegraph that Omo is the only pale giraffe they know of.
In related news, here’s a rap about phenotypes from our friend Tom at the Nueva School:, which also happened today