July 30, 2009 / 5:11 PM / 10 years ago

Rare albino wallaby born in captivity in Cyprus

An albino wallaby is seen with another wallaby in their enclosure at a private zoo in the district of Paphos July 30, 2009. REUTERS/Pavlos Vrionides

PAPHOS, Cyprus (Reuters Life!) - A rare albino wallaby has been born in captivity in Cyprus, becoming the star attraction at a private zoo.

The two-month old marsupial has only just emerged from its mother’s pouch, standing about 40 cm (15.7 inches) tall and stark white among a mob of eight larger brown wallabies.

“It was quite timid at first and kept jumping back into the pouch, but it seems to be enjoying the attention today,” said Christos Christoforou, owner of the Paphos Bird and Animal Park.

Wallabies are members of the kangaroo family and can live up to about nine years in the wild. They are smaller than their cousins, and can weigh up to 24 kg. They are native to Australia.

Albinism is a genetic condition caused by a lack of the melanin pigment which gives color to eyes, hair and skin.

After giving visitors the runaround when it refused to leave its mothers pouch Wednesday, the mammal appeared to relish the attention Thursday, hopping around an enclosure under an ancient carob tree.

The zoo has not thought of a name yet. “We have not been able to determine its sex, it’s too early,” said Christoforou. “It’s probably a boy.”

Reporting by Michele Kambas, editing by Ingrid Melander

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