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Rare albino kangaroo's incredible tale of survival in the Australian outback

A rare albino kangaroo at the Namadgi National Park.

A rare albino kangaroo at the Namadgi National Park. Photo: Rohan Thomson

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Lazing in the middle of a kangaroo mob just a half hour drive from city suburbs is a truly incredible tale of survival, rarely seen in the animal kingdom: an albino kangaroo that has survived beyond its perilous childhood.

Its pure, almost dazzling white coat strikes an amazing contrast against the lush greens and bush greys of the valley floor in the ACT’s Namadgi National Park.

A rare albino kangaroo at the Namadgi National Park. Click for more photos

Rare albino kangaroo found in Canberra national park

Rohan Thomson and Hamish Boland-Rudder track down a rare albino kangaroo at Namadgi National Park, near Canberra, Australia. Follow us at twitter.com/canberratimes Photo: Rohan Thomson

Parks ranger Brett McNamara thinks the albino kangaroo, likely an eastern grey, is probably about two years old, which is extremely rare in the wild.

The usual fate of such an outstanding creature is a very short lifespan. In this part of the world, 30 minutes past Canberra’s southern suburbs, they make easy prey for wild dogs, foxes, and even eagles from the moment they are born. Their pale skin also makes them susceptible to sun burn and cancer, much like a fair-skinned human.

To add to their woes, albino kangaroos also tend to have a genetic predisposition towards sight and hearing issues, making it even more difficult to escape hungry predators.

“The whole thing about natural selection is that you want to blend in. Grey kangaroos are grey for a reason – they blend in with the rest of the environment,” Mr McNamara says.

Surrounded by its extended family of grey eastern greys, this young kangaroo looks alert but at ease. It appears to notice the clicking of a camera, and moves with its mob as we near.

Mr McNamara says the healthy population of kangaroos in the valley has probably played a large part in its survival, as the family bands together against potential dangers.

“It’s literally a face in the mob,” he says. “They do form very close-knit mobs within that valley. There’d be a dominate male kangaroo, there’d be a harem of females that he would be keeping a close eye on, then there would be some adults and obviously the juveniles coming through.”

From a distance it’s too hard to tell the sex of the albino, although the sight of a large male sniffing around could be an indication that it is a girl.

Rangers have given it the nickname Rene(e) (with the second ‘e’ awaiting confirmation of its sex), after a staff member in the department, but say they’re open to suggestions from the community.

Having survived the inherent dangers of a childhood of standing out in the crowd, Mr McNamara says he sees no reason the creature shouldn’t enjoy a full and happy life going forward – although he warns rangers will be keeping an eye out for any human interference.

“We are concerned about its ongoing welfare because of some illegal hunting activities that do occur in the park. We know we have those problems in the park,” he says.

Since it was first captured on film in a fuzzy shot by a ranger on Sunday, the park has received reports of at least two other albino kangaroos in its vast expanse in the ACT’s south. Friday was the second time The Canberra Times was called to the park to look for the creature.

But Mr McNamara says visitors shouldn’t come just to look for them. He won’t reveal the exact locations of the sightings, but instead says people should take it as an indication of just how worthwhile visiting the park could be.

“It really, to my mind, underscores the incredible biodiversity value that is Namadgi National Park,” he says.

“That something like this can occur, I know it’s all a bit clichéd, but literally a stone’s throw from the nation’s capital … what other national capital anywhere in the world could you do something like that? That’s what I reckon makes Canberra such an incredibly unique place.”

Do you have a suggestion for the name of the albino kangaroo? Leave your ideas in the comments.

115 comments

  • What a magnificent creature! Thanks CT for giving us the pics :)

    Commenter
    Donna Joy
    Date and time
    November 15, 2013, 1:32PM
    • Obviously the Author has never been to Bordertown SA, nothing new here.
      And for anyone interested checkout the Albino roos in their enclosure on the eastern entrance to Bordertown SA. Been there for years upon years, been there for as long as I can remember. Sorry, but......this is nothing new.

      Commenter
      A country gal
      Date and time
      November 16, 2013, 12:23AM
    • .And might I add rare but nonetheless not an exception. Beautiful but.

      Commenter
      A country gal
      Date and time
      November 16, 2013, 12:28AM
  • Suggested name: snow hopper. Alternatively, how about 'white native?'

    Commenter
    FD
    Date and time
    November 15, 2013, 1:46PM
    • Or...Miss Cinderella Brindabella

      Commenter
      Sally M
      Date and time
      November 15, 2013, 3:50PM
    • +1 White Native!

      Commenter
      Bourkie
      Location
      San Francisco
      Date and time
      November 15, 2013, 6:16PM
    • No, it's the rare and barely documented 'Polar Roo', there's no ice left up north so they're trying to get back in with the oldies, can't you see how he's sweating like crazy?

      Commenter
      JoBlo
      Location
      Here
      Date and time
      November 15, 2013, 7:22PM
    • Call it 'Ted'

      Commenter
      Jack
      Date and time
      November 16, 2013, 9:13PM
  • Please somebody come up with an appropriately elegant and dignified name for this little beauty!!!...that doesn't include the word white or snow, although it certainly is a unique little snowflake hey!! Absolutely stunning, gorgeous......pristine

    Commenter
    Snowflake
    Location
    Snowies
    Date and time
    November 15, 2013, 1:55PM
    • It is not a Roo.. it is a super intelligent lab rat that has escaped and is now masquerading as a Roo.

      Commenter
      DJ77
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      November 15, 2013, 2:12PM

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