Rare blonde penguin spotted in Falkland Islands

Rare blonde penguin spotted in Falkland Islands

A rare 'blonde' penguin has been spotted in the Falkland Islands.

The female Gentoo penguin has a condition called leucism meaning it appears with pale skin – affecting one in 10,000 of the species.

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Often confused for albinism, the peculiar penguin condition prevents any melanin, dark brown to black pigmentation, from being produced in its feathers.

The penguin was spotted quietly guarding the nests of a small Gentoo colony on Weddell Island, in the Falklands, last month.

Photographer Barbara Nannig, 40, who lives in the Island's capital Stanley, was overwhelmed to have snapped the rare penguin in real life.

She said: "I felt so happy, I have never seen a penguin like this in all of my life.

"Weirdly, this penguin was very quiet the whole time I was there.

"The other penguins were very loud and noisy.

"I put the picture on Facebook and it's attracted nearly 300 likes and comments from people who are amazed too."

There are believed to be 320,000 breeding pairs of Gentoo penguins in the world, with colonies found on the Falkland Islands, Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Heard, South Orkney, Macquarie, Crozet and Prince Edward.

The Falkland Islands are an archipelago, consisting of over two main and 778 smaller islands.

Weddell Island, which is situated on the west coast and where the leucestic penguin was spotted, is run as a tourist destination by Jane and Martin Beaton.

They said: "The leucistic penguin is one that has a variation in its pigmentation.

"Where most penguins are black, it is a very pale grey or coffee colour, its eyes, beak and feet are normal colours for the breed.

"Although it certainly stands out in the crowd it is not as rare as a true albino."

For more information on the Falklands visit www.falkland.gov.fk or for Weddell Island visit: www.weddellisland.com.

ZSL Animal Photography Prize 2016
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ZSL Animal Photography Prize 2016

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