Inbreeding caused albinism of Barcelona's famous gorilla: study

Jun 05, 2013
Copo de Nieve (Snowflake), an albino gorilla at the Barcelona zoo, on September 14, 2003. Inbreeding was the cause of the albinism of Snowflake, the only albino gorilla known to man which was a star attraction of the Barcelona zoo for decades, Spanish researchers said.

Inbreeding was the cause of the albinism of "Snowflake", the only albino gorilla known to man which was a star attraction of the Barcelona zoo for decades, Spanish researchers said.

The gorilla was captured in Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony, after hunters killed the rest of its clan and taken to the Barcelona zoo in 1966 where he lived until his death from in 2003.

The gorilla was featured on postcards, mentioned in tourist guides and even featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine, becoming an unofficial mascot for the city and famous around the world.

Now researchers at Barcelona's Institute of have concluded after carrying out genome sequencing on the remains of the gorilla that his was caused by a mutation of the SLC45A2 gene which was transmitted to him by both parents.

"Genes causing albinism are recessive. That is, to be albino, you have to have the two chromosomes with the mutation for albinism," Tomas Marques, the director of the team that carried out the study presented Wednesday at the Barcelona zoo, told AFP by telephone.

Snowflake's grandfather probably carried the recessive albino genes, he said. Then two of his descendents probably paired off—a rare case where an animal receives two recessive albino genes, one from each parent—and the result was Snowflake, an albino gorilla.

The researches have also published their study of the of the famous albino gorilla in the journal BMC Genomics.

Explore further: Healthy five-pound gorilla born at central Ohio zoo

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rare albino alligator goes on show in US

Oct 07, 2011

An extremely rare albino alligator from the swamps of Louisiana is taking up residence in Washington, dazzling visitors with her brilliant white skin.

Recommended for you

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

41 minutes ago

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

More vets turn to prosthetics to help legless pets

4 hours ago

A 9-month-old boxer pup named Duncan barreled down a beach in Oregon, running full tilt on soft sand into YouTube history and showing more than 4 million viewers that he can revel in a good romp despite lacking ...

Chimpanzees prefer firm, stable beds

13 hours ago

Chimpanzees may select a certain type of wood, Ugandan Ironwood, over other options for its firm, stable, and resilient properties to make their bed, according to a study published April 16, 2014 in the open-access ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

More vets turn to prosthetics to help legless pets

A 9-month-old boxer pup named Duncan barreled down a beach in Oregon, running full tilt on soft sand into YouTube history and showing more than 4 million viewers that he can revel in a good romp despite lacking ...

Robotics goes micro-scale

(Phys.org) —The development of light-driven 'micro-robots' that can autonomously investigate and manipulate the nano-scale environment in a microscope comes a step closer, thanks to new research from the ...