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Rare White Kangaroo Born In New York Zoo Is The Only One Of Its Kind In America

Albinism and leucism — in which pigmentation exists in the eyes but not the fur — are generally understood as rare conditions but it's hard to realistically know how rare they are.

After all, the main reason why it's so unusual to see an albino or leucistic animal is that these animals have a much tougher time hiding from predators thanks to their white coats. Still, it's not completely impossible for Americans to see a white deer or squirrel in their travels, even if it is extremely unlikely.

But there is one creature that would be outright impossible to see stateside were it not for one astonishing recent birth at a New York Zoo.

On January 15, Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York announced the birth of a new red kangaroo joey.

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But as you can see, there was nothing red about little Cosmo here. And as a post on the zoo's Facebook page noted, it was immediately clear from his white coat and black eyes that Cosmo is leucistic.

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Although the zoo's staff announced this fact on the day it was discovered, they didn't know it themselves until five months after Cosmo was born.

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According to CNN, this is because it's common practice to let joeys grow in their mothers' pouch for months after they're born sight unseen.

Since baby kangaroos are roughly the size of a human thumbnail when they're first born, staff waited until Cosmo had grown enough to handle his first full medical exam.

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Once Animal Adventure Park's owner Jordan Patch saw Cosmo, he began asking around to find out just how rare the kangaroo he now has on his hands is.

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And as he told WBNG, his contact with other zoos and professionals that specifically work with marsupials has now given him reason to believe that no other living leucistic kangaroo now exists in North America.

That certainly makes the reaction among his staff that was relayed to CNN easy to understand. In his words, "Right off the bat when we saw he was white it was remarkable, but when we got a closer look and saw the black eyes, our jaws dropped to the floor. In that moment we knew we had something we'd never seen in our entire careers."

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Cosmo's father, Boomer, had lived in the zoo for eight years by the time the little one was born, while his mother Rosie had just arrived at the park in 2020.

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According to CNN, both will now be subject to long-term genetic studies to determine whether these parents have the recessive gene traits that make leucistic children more likely or whether Cosmo's birth was simply a fluke.

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Aside from the color of his coat, Cosmo does not appear to have any congenital conditions.

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Nonetheless, his leucism would cast severe doubt on his ability to survive in the wild, which means the already unlikely scenario of that happening is now close to an impossibility.

Still, Patch is treating Cosmo's presence at Animal Adventure Park as a good omen, saying, "Animal Adventure is no stranger to having awesome happenings and experiences, and here we are today going into 2021 with some light at the end of the tunnel, and it's bright, it's white, and its name is Cosmo."

h/t: CNN

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