A small albino Galapagos giant tortoise was born at the Tropiquarium Zoo, in Servion, near Lausanne, Switzerland. Doctors and scholars were speechless, because it is the first time ever that a specimen of the albino species was born.
The Galapagos giant tortoises are part of a conservation program for the species activated by the facility. Albinism is a very rare phenomenon in turtles. This congenital anomaly is caused by a defect or absence of the enzyme involved in the synthesis of melanin and thus the animals have a total or partial deficiency of melanin pigmentation in the skin, iris and choroid, hair and hair.
Albinism in the animal world often does not allow a very long life, not only due to the extreme sensitivity of the skin but also because it prevents camouflaging and escaping from predators. Total albinism is quite rare and is characterized by totally white skin, almost white or straw yellow hair of a silky and rough texture, bluish-gray or pink eyes.
Albinism is associated with a number of visual defects such as photophobia, nystagmus and astigmatism. The total absence of pigmentation greatly increases the susceptibility of these subjects to sun burns and skin cancers.
In rare cases, for example those affected by Chédiak-Higashi Syndrome, albinism can be caused by a deficiency in the transport of melanin granules. This pathology also affects the granules of the granulocytes, causing an increased susceptibility to infections.
An individual affected by this enzyme defect is called albino, while an individual who has a reduced but not completely absent amount of melanin is called albinoid.
Giant Galapagos Tortoise
The Galapagos tortoises are the largest land tortoises in the world, with a carapace length of around 150 centimeters and a weight that can reach 300 kg.
Depending on the environment in which they grow, they can develop two different types of carapaces called a saddle and dome, in the specimens found in the flat and arid islands the classic saddle carapace occurs, given the drier vegetation, sparse and growing upwards, such as the opuntia plants that grow in these driest islands of the Galapagos.
All this is aimed at facilitating the extension of the animal so that it can easily reach the succulent vegetation from which they derive hydration and minerals, while the domed carapace is typical of the wetter islands where the vegetation is more luxuriant and easily accessible. It is one of the longest-lived animals in the world, it can easily exceed 150 years.