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Zoo breeds second white antelope

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: May 25, 2012

The rare white antelope born at Paignton Zoo – the second in two years

The rare white antelope born at Paignton Zoo – the second in two years

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A genetic phenomenon has occurred twice in two years at a Westcountry zoo.

An albino Kafue Flats lechwe antelope has been born at Paignton Zoo as a result of a natural genetic aberration.

Kafue Flats lechwe inhabit the grasslands and floodplains of central Africa.

In the wild, an albino lechwe would be highly unusual and unlikely to survive to maturity.

But at Paignton Zoo, the newborn calf has an older half-sister Sethunya, also an albino lechwe, who was born in 2010.

The sisters are the only two surviving white lechwe at the zoo for 20 years.

Paignton Zoo spokesman Phil Knowling said: "The lechwe are shy animals in a large paddock and new calves are small and usually quite difficult to see, but being completely white, she stands out.

"She is not a true albino as her eyes are blue, not pink, but she is very lovely!"

Classified as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Kafue Flats lechwe are threatened in their natural environment by hunting and destruction of their habitat.

With a small herd of a few mature males and five females, Paignton Zoo is working alongside the European Endangered Species Programme to ensure the survival of the species.

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