Pretty in Pink: Rare Pink Hippo Photographed in Kenya

A French couple spotted a rare pink hippo in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve. (Photo: Caters News Agency)

Last year brought us all kinds of crazy and crazy cute animals: Glow-in-the-dark turtles, the traveling Instagram dog, Burma the Adventure Cat, that adorable lion cub trying to roar, the cutest baby koala you’ve ever seen, and an incredible new species of giant tortoise discovered in the Galápagos.

And it looks like our good fortune is rolling right into 2016, with the spotting of an incredibly rare animal: the pink hippopotamus.

The pink skin is caused by a condition called leucism. (Photo: Caters News Agency)

As noted in the New York Post, the unusual rose-colored hippo was photographed by a French couple in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve. And though the bathing beauty stands out from the crowd, that’s not necessarily a good thing for hippos. Their usual gray color allows them to blend in with the scenery and hide from predators; it also prevents sunburn.

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This hippo’s pink hue, with speckled gray spots, is the result of a condition called leucism, meaning a partial loss of pigmentation. This is different from being albino, in which an absence of melatonin prevents any color from being displayed throughout the body (including in the eyes). Leucism affects only the skin, scales, or feathers. That’s why this hippo’s eyes look as dark (and might we add, intelligent) as the rest of the herd.

Sadly, this pink hippo has a higher risk of being spotted by predators — hippos’ usual gray skin helps them blend in better with their surroundings. (Photo: Caters News Agency)

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