In 2013, scientists, zoologists, and wildlife biologists were amazed when they were able to capture striking photos of an extremely rare white cougar in the Serra dos Órgãos National Park, a reservation located in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. They could not be any delightful when the cougar they caught on trap camera was confirmed to be the first-ever recorded case of a leucistic puma. Scroll down to read about the unique puma!
The magnificent beauty of the first albino cougar ever documented
Although albinism, leucism, and even melanism are frequent syndromes among wild cats, there have never been records of cougars that develop these genetic conditions. The reason why this cougar has leucistic features still remains a mystery for scientists.
“That shows you how extremely unusual it is,” executive director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Big Cats Program Luke Hunter told National Geographic. “My best guess is that the distant ancestor of pumas was uniformly colored, and that has been maintained in the species ever since. But that’s just a consequence of the randomness of mutation, the roll of the genetic dice.”
This first case of leucism in cougars would have helped researchers to understand why this genetic color aberration occurs so rarely. Unfortunately, after the initial encounter in 2013, the animal has never been seen again. “The camera trap monitoring project restarted last year, but we still have no new record of this animal or any other odd-colored pumas,” Cecília Cronemberger de Faria, environmental analyst for Serra dos Órgãos National Park said.
As unique and impressive as they look, sadly, wild animals that suffer from albinism, melanism, or leucism face a lot of hardships. They are extremely vulnerable in front of predators due to their bright color, they’re also frequently rejected by their groups and usually need help and rescue from wild animal rescue organizations to help them in finding a new habitat.