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Zoo Welcomes Rare White Koala

REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

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An Australian zoo welcomed a koala joey born with a “silvering gene,” a rare genetic condition that turns fur a shade of white, zoo staff announced Tuesday.

The koala, born on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, has its unique color due to a recessive gene inherited from the mother, Tia, NEWS City reported Tuesday.

“In veterinary science it’s often referred to as the ‘silvering gene’ where animals are born with white or very pale fur and, just like baby teeth, they eventually shed their baby fur and the regular adult colouration comes through,” Rosie Booth, the zoo’s wildlife hospital director, said in a statement.

The silvering gene is not due to albinism, BBC News clarified Tuesday. Rather, the genetic conditions differ since a koala born with the color abnormality will eventually grow darker fur. The light or white fur essentially falls out as the joey gets older, according ABC Brisbane.

The zoo staff expressed gratefulness that Tia’s joey was born in the protection of the zoo, since light-colored fur can make more koalas more visible and attractive to predators.

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