7 oddly colored animals that caught our eye in 2021

A yellow king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus)  in South Georgia suffering from leucism. (Image credit: Kennedy News and Media/Yves Adams)

In most major animal groups, there have been documented instances of individuals with white or unusually light coloring in species that are not typically white. These strangely colored animals are very rare, and some cultures consider them signs of good luck or as having healing properties in traditional medicine, thus making these individuals extremely valuable to poachers. 

There are two main conditions that cause non-white animals to be born white or another unusual color: albinism and leucism. Both conditions affect an animal’s ability to produce melanin, a skin pigment that gives animals’ skin, hair and eyes their color, which is present in some amount in most animals. Albinism is a genetic condition that prevents melanin production in every cell in an animal, resulting in a total loss of color. Leucism affects individual pigment-producing cells, so it can cause either total or partial color loss or change. 

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