Monkeys are wonderful creatures with different shapes, sizes, and colors. These animals have a reputation for being intelligent, agile, and sociability. Nevertheless, some monkeys are distinct from others. Born with this gene, they are different from other people in their society. They are albino monkeys.
Albino monkeys are monkeys that have albinism, a rare condition which reduces melanin (pigment) resulting in white skin, white hair and red blood vessels/eyes. Consequently, albino monkeys have very light or white hair or skin and pink or red eyes. Any kind of monkeys may be affected by albinism although some are affected more than others.
We shall discuss about the causes, results as well as some samples of albinism among the monkeys in this particular blog post. In this regard, we will also discuss the hurdles and chances associated with the albino monkey in its natural habitat and captivity. The last few lines in this post will explain the odd animals better to you.
What Causes Albinism in Monkeys?
Albinism results from mutations occurring at one gene that governs the synthesis of melanin. It is a pigment that provides colour to the skin, hair, and eyes. The other role of honey is that it protects the skin from UV rays as well as promotes eye sight.
In this way, when a monkey gets two copies of its mutated gene – one from the father and another from the mother – the said monkey becomes an albino. The implication of this information is that albinism is an autosomal recessive disease, hence, it requires two genes for it to be transmitted by the parent. This happens with low probability and thus makes albinism a rare condition among monkeys.
The risk for albionisis among monkeys could be caused by incest and environment stress. This refers to breeding amongst the closely related animals that could lead to the inherited trait among the recessive genes. For example, if monkeys live in stressful environments, this may change their gene expression due to environmental stress.
How Does Albinism Affect Monkeys?
Monkey albinism may affect their health as well as survival. Any of the body parts producing melanin may be affected, namely the eyes, the skin, as well as the internal organs and the hairs. Some of the effects of albinism on monkeys are:
• Vision problems: Nystagmus, strabismus, photophobia, and low vision are some of the eye problems associated with albinism. They can degrade vision clarity, particularly in bright light, among the monkeys. These can influence their hunting abilities, fleeing capacity, as well as they are forced to rethink their foraging or socializing patterns.
• Skin problems: The albino monkey’s thin skin allows the ultraviolet rays of the sun to reach deeper into the skin. This in turn may result to sunburn, skin damage and even skin cancer. Such attacks may be very painful and even deadly for the monkey. In addition, monkeys with albinism are susceptible to various infections and injuries since they do not have the inborn protection provided by melanin.
• Social problems: Monkeys having albinism may separate them from their groups, resulting in exposure to predators or other rivals. Their albinism may also negatively impact their position in the society, they may not be considered beautiful nor strong enough for a mating partner by their peers. The albinistic monkey might even be shunned or excluded by its group. This may have consequences for their general health (mental and emotional).
Examples of Albino monkeys
Any type of Albino monkey may suffer albinism; however, certain species are prone to suffer it than other. Some of the species that have been reported to have albino individuals are:
• Gorillas: Gorillas are not the easiest prey for hunters, although there are still a lot of threats for their existence such as poaching and habitat destruction. There has been only one recorded case of a single Albino gorilla. He was called Snowflake; a western lowland gorilla in the Barcelona Zoo from 1966–2003. In 1966 he was captive Equatorial Guinea being the only known albinogorilla. His appearance was incomplete without mentioning that he had white hair, pink skin, and blue eyes while siring up to twenty-two offspring who did not inherit the albinism. He died of skin cancer at the age of 40, and his DNA revealed that he was a result of inbreeding.
• Capuchins: They are tiny, quick little monkeys endemic in Central and Southern America. They are smart creatures and also use tools hence a popular pet animal as well as entertainment show. The albino capuchins are extremely scarce; less than twenty cases have been reported for both wild and captive environments. For instance, there is an albino capuchin Pinky born at a zoo in Argentina in 2008. At birth, she had a white fur, pink skin and red eyes, and her mother rejected her immediately. She was hand-raised by the zoo staff, and she became a popular attraction for visitors.
Orangutans: These are the great apes called orangutans which live in the forests of Borneo and Sumatra in Indonesia. Deforestation destroys their habitat; they are hunted, and they are part of illegal trade. The occurrence of an albino orangutan in the wild is also very scarce. In 2017, Alba is a Bornean orangutan whose cage rescuing happened in a remote village of Indonesia.
The doctor found out that she had white hair, blue eyes, pink face, parasites, dehydration, and stress. A medical officer found her in the same condition and took her to a rehabilitation centre. While at the centre, she learnt how to live in a jungle and later went on with her life. She was released back into the wild in 2018, and she is monitored by a team of experts.
What are the challenges or opportunities that face albino monkeys?
Albino monkeys have numerous hardships in the wild and during domestication. Because of dangers encountered in the wilds, or strife among fellow monkeys, white monkeys have had a lot of troubles. However, even with such complications, the white monkeys find a way around it and ensure there will be more white primates alive.
Albino monkeys have challenges with their skin, sight and social issues. Handling natural impediments like droughts while evading enemies and competitors is also something that they have to learn. Unfortunetely, they are susceptible to the same humans, who hunt them into captivity or even killing some of them for sport and food, while their natural habitats are destroyed through other human activities such as gold mining and illegal logging. This exposes them to a risk of eviction.
Positively, albinos can draw on their particular position and make the situation concerning them known to the world at large. As such they can serve as tourist attractions or focal points of media attention for a certain species. Their biology, behaviour and genetics can be used by scientists and conservationists to develop strategies on how best they can preserve and restore their population. On the other hand, organizations and people can help through rescue and re-habilitation of albino monkeys.