Here’s one to add to your alphabetical list of “Things You Don’t See Everyday” right before “honest politician” – a hippo that’s pink. A couple photographed this rare pink hippo at a game reserve in Kenya and it just might be the same one spotted as an infant in 2010.
Laurent and Dominique Renaud of France were visiting Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve this winter when they heard others talking about the a pink hippo. Even with all of the other unusual animals at this game reserve in Narok County, Kenya, contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, that would be a real find.
The Renauds said they went daily to a particular spot in the Mara River where the pink hippo was rumored to be swimming with a herd until Laurent finally spotted it.
I could barely get my camera out to take the photo, I was shaking so much!
Wildlife experts believe the hippo’s pink skin is caused by leucism – a condition where multiple types of normal pigments are missing and the animal is pink or white with possibly some small patches of dark skin but no pink eyes, which would signify albinism. That describes the hippo the Laurents saw.
It also describes a pink hippo seen before in the park. In 2010, brothers Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas saw a baby pink hippo coming out of the Mara River and managed to get some photographs of it.
While rare, pink hippos have been seen elsewhere. In 2011, Marc Mol used a microlight aircraft to take overhead shots of a pink hippo in the middle of herd in Tafika Camp, South Luangwa, Zambia, Africa.
Because they stand out from the herd or flock, animals with leucism often become famous but rarely live normal lives. A pink dolphin was seen in September in Louisiana (a long way from the Amazon where pink Amazon river dolphins are often seen) and the extremely endangered Mexican walking fish (Ambystoma mexicanum) – a pink salamander – is seen on rare occasions in Lake Xochimilco.
For now, the pink hippo of Masai Mara looks healthy, happy and … pink.