Sometimes oddity is cool, at least to the observer. This young pink hippo is a designer's dream. Imagine the Pink Hippo line of clothing for young women. Or the Pink Hippo, an avant-garde experience for dining, dreaming and delight. And the Pink Hippo, a designer libation, consisting of tequila with pink lemonade or pink grapefruit juice, lime, a frosted glass and perhaps a salted rim. Hmm, not sure about the salted rim, but, whatever works is OK.
As far as the hippo is concerned, well, being pink may not be cool. Often being the oddball, the outlier or the strange one leads to social disadvantage. Ask anybody who has some obvious odd physical characteristic. Go to any mall and ask the too tall or too short or too fat or too skinny crawlers how they feel about their oddity and being a pink hippo takes on a different, not cute, connotation.
While albino and albinism are common terms of understanding, leucism is not. It appears that the pink hippo is leucitic. Based on the river horse's diminished pigmentation, this youngster could be confused with an albino. The tip off is the pink hippo's normal eye color. Albinos have red eyes because they have a general lack of melanin production, including the retinal epithelium and the iris. Leucism is a defect in pigmentation of cells derived from the neural crest. Neither the retinal epithelial cells nor the iris pigment cells are derived from the neural crest and hence leucitics have normal eye color.
If you look at the hippo a bit more, several pigmented spots can be seen. It is not unusual for the leucitic animal to have partial or some pigmentation. This condition is described as being piebald. This hippo, who not yet been named, was found in Masai Mara, Kenya. Umm, come to think of it, what's wrong with the name, "Pink"?
From a survival standpoint, leucitics are disadvantaged. For one, they are more easily spotted by predators and secondly, they suffer from sun exposure and burning. In the case of the pink hippo, the animal has few natural predators and, moreover, it is large enough to fend for itself. Also, hippos spend a lot of time submerged in water, away from direct sun exposure, making the sunburn problem less of an issue.
The animals sweat is also protective against the sun. Hippo sweat is incredible stuff, just incredible. Initially the sweat appears clear, but it soon takes on an orange red color. The longer it sits the sweat becomes more brown. The sweat is remarkable because it it able to absorb UV light and prevent hippo sunburn. Here's more on hippo sweat, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29727352/
In short, Pink the Hippo has a good chance of surviving.
Here a few other leucitics. Note the normal eye color.
And so it goes...