(CNN) — A New York zoo has welcomed a baby red kangaroo with a rare condition that left park employees shocked.
Cosmo, the newest joey at Animal Adventure Park, was born with leucism, an incredibly rare condition that causes the partial loss of pigmentation in an animal’s skin and fur. Unlike albinism, leucism does not cause a lack of pigmentation in the eyes.
The baby was born at the animal park in Harpursville five months ago but was removed by keepers from his mother’s pouch for the first time on January 15.
Like other baby kangaroos born the size of a human thumbnail, Cosmo was left to grow in his mother’s pouch for months before being removed to receive his first full medical exam.
“Right off the bat when we saw he was white it was remarkable, but when we got a closer look and saw the black eyes, our jaws dropped to the floor. In that moment we knew we had something we’d never seen in our entire careers,” park owner Jordan Patch told CNN.
“This is the only kangaroo of its kind in existence in North America at this moment, so that’s how rare this is.”
The little joey was born to Boomer, a male red kangaroo who has lived at the park for eight years, and Rosie, who joined the park in 2020.
“Whatever the underlying genetics are between the two of them is what produced this very unique mutation,” Patch said. “Now we’re looking long term to understand and study what that gene is, are both parents recessive trait holders, is this just a fluke?”
While Cosmo’s genetic makeup should not affect his health, the only danger is that he does not have the ability to camouflage, so he would most likely never survive in the wild.
“Animal Adventure is no stranger to having awesome happenings and experiences, and here we are today going into 2021 with some light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s bright, it’s white, and its name is Cosmo,” Patch said.
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