The miracle of life is always spectacular, but sometimes there’s something extra special that makes welcoming a new baby that much more exciting. That was the case when the Panorama Gardens, a nature garden and wildlife sanctuary, welcomed a new baby joey into their care.
Cindy and Marloo, two kangaroos residing at the Melbourne, Australia sanctuary, mated and gave birth to an extremely rare joey in August of 2020 – an albino Eastern Grey kangaroo! The dad, Marloo, also has that rare genetic mutation, but no one expected it to be passed down to the baby.
It became evident that the joey was something special the moment it peeped its head out of its mom’s pouch. Its little head was bright white, lacking all pigmentation.
Annemaree Van Rooy, an employee of the sanctuary, shared with UNILAD that albinism only occurs once in every 50,000 to 100,000 kangaroos, making it an extremely rare condition. Despite being so rare, the sanctuary has actually welcomed 9 albino kangaroos to its estate! UNILAD reports that the owner of the estate shared that they welcomed the birth of their first albino kangaroo a few years earlier and they only seem to be growing in numbers.
While in the wild, albinism is a deadly mutation to have. Kangaroos often use their black and grey color to hide from predators and struggle with poor eyesight. In fact, many kangaroos are near-blind, making them an easy target. This, combined with the bright white color, make albino kangaroos especially easy to prey on. Beyond this, albino kangaroos may be less likely to find a mate in the wild and more likely to attract the attention of poachers.
Thankfully, albino kangaroos don’t have to worry about any of these problems at the Panorama Gardens! In fact, the albino kangaroos aren’t the only special animals residing at the sanctuary. It’s also home to Alexander the Great, a magnificent (and extremely rare) white peacock.
In the wild, kangaroos are preyed on primarily by dingoes and wild dogs, according to Bush Heritage. Since dingoes and wild dogs have been decreasing in the kangaroos’ natural habitat, the number of wild kangaroos has actually gone up. This is due primarily to the construction of a dog fence that runs the length of their main habitat, allowing kangaroos to mate and live freely without the worry of predators. Because of this, uniquely colored kangaroos, like the albinos, have a much higher chance of survival than they once did.
When threatened, kangaroos surround the most disadvantaged in the group to try and protect them. According to apost, researchers have even observed regular kangaroos forming a protective ring around an albino and her joey. Thankfully, between the kangaroos’ natural efforts and the efforts of humans, we can enjoy the incredible albino kangaroos today.
Congratulations to Cindy and her newborn joey!
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