If I were to tell you I saw a pink animal while on safari, your first guess would probably be a flamingo. But what if I told you that pink creature was actually an adorable baby elephant!?
That’s exactly what Nicki Coertze saw when he was on safari with his family at Kruger National Park in South Africa. The group was watching a herd of elephants drinking, playing, and bathing in a river when they spotted the unusual little pachyderm walking behind its mother.
The sweet little guy happily flapped his ears and frolicked by the edge of the riverbank as Nicki snapped away with his camera.
The elephant’s unusual coloring is a result of albinism, which causes a lack of pigmentation in the skin. The condition is extremely rare in African elephants – even more so than among their Asian cousins.
Nicki said the elephants in the herd treated the little guy no different than the others, which is heartwarming to see and a good reminder for us humans when we interact with people who look a little different than us.
“I have been visiting Kruger since my early childhood, and have over the last many years been spending at least 20 to 30 days in Kruger every year. I have never seen an albino elephant before. And then, none of my many friends have either. So bearing that in mind, I have an idea that this is a once in a lifetime sighting for me,” Nicki said. “As far as the rest of the herd was concerned they seemed to just accept him in their stride.”
Sadly, while the elephant has received no trouble from his herd, wildlife experts warn he may find it elsewhere. Poachers may find his unique coloring desirable and target him, though thankfully he lives in the national park, which should help protect him.
His lack of pigment may also cause some skin problems as he’s exposed to the hot African sun, and he may suffer vision problems, or even blindness later in his life as his eyes are more sensitive to sunlight.
We know, though, that park rangers will do all they can to make sure this adorable little guy stays safe and healthy. Thankfully, from the looks of these photos, this pink baby elephant seems to be happily enjoying the life he has!
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