Postcard courtesy of Michelle Mock
The albino gorilla, known as Snowflake, arrived at the Barcelona Zoo from Equatorial Africa in 1966, the same year I arrived at Marymount International School in Barcelona where I would attend high school for the next two years. Snowflake attracted many visitors to the Barcelona Zoo. When he died from cancer in 2003, the people of Barcelona were very sad. He was like a member of the family and the mascot of the city of Barcelona.
Snowflake was approximately 40 years old (about 80 in human years). The typical life span of a gorilla is about 25 years. The condition that made him famous was caused by the absense of a dark pigment called melanin. This condition gave him his white color but also made him more susceptible to skin cancer, which led to his death. If you have light colored pets, especially white cats or dogs, ask your veternarian how you can best protect them from the sun. White colored animals are especially susceptible to skin cancer.
Snowflake did much to bring attention to the plight of gorillas and left behind many offspring (none of them were white). You can read more about Snowflake, on line, at sites such as: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/snowflake/snowflake.html .
Caption: Snowflake "Copito de Nieve"
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