Did you see the Rare Giraffe in Tanzania?

I remember a picture of you standing near the rare giraffe spotted in Tarangire National Park!  She was named OMO after a locally sold laundry detergent.  She is not an Albino.  Albinos lack pigment all over including the eyes.  An Albino’s eyes look red due the lack of pigment to cover the color of the blood vessels of the eyes.  OMO has a rare genetic abnormality called Leucism. Some of the cells, but not all, are unable to produce pigment.

When I saw the word Leucism I just knew the root – Leuko – had to be Latin.  Many words in medicine come from Latin.  I looked it up and the Latin word for White is Alba.  (Now I know where albino come from.) The Leuco…base is known to me because we have special blood cells in our body called Leucocytes.  These are White Blood Cells and they are responsible for fighting infections and foreign substances in our body.  I found out Leuko is the Greek word for white.

Leucocytes in our bodies might fight off infection but I am afraid that OMO’s Leucism may make her vulnerable to attack, not only by animals of prey but poachers who would value such a rare hide.  I hope OMO finds protection from both.  She is so very beautiful.  At any rate, Leucism would not be a good genetic trait to pass on.  I found out that it can be passed on but may skip generations before another one comes along.  She could have “normal” colored babies but one of her grandchildren could be born with it.  Not all creatures (many other types of animals can have the same genetic abnormality) have the lack of pigment in such a large area.  It could have been only on a part of her body.  Wouldn’t that look strange?  Imagine a normal colored giraffe with a white head!

I think OMO is pretty special.  Don’t you?

Author: terrisloanclark

I am Nanna to my Grandchildren, mom, wife, sister, daugher, physical therapist and friend.

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