An extremely rare puma cub was recently born at a zoo in Nicaragua, and its eye-catching fur is drawing attention worldwide.
Officials at the Thomas Belt Zoo, in Juigalpa, announced the birth of an albino cougar in an Aug. 22 news release, sharing an image of the cub being carried in its mother’s mouth.
One of the cub’s siblings can be seen as well, highlighting the stark difference in coat pattern and color. But if mom can see the difference, she doesn’t appear to mind.
“We are taking all measures to be able to keep him as healthy as possible, together with his mother,” zoo veterinarian Carlos Molina told Agence France-Presse, adding “he is healthy, his body is in good condition.”
Albinism is a rare condition in which an animal, or a person, has little or no melanin. In addition to causing white fur, albinism often results in poor eyesight.
Currently, the zoo is barring public access to the cub’s enclosure, while focusing on ensuring its well-being and survival, the zoo said.
Albino animals have increased sensitivity to sunlight, Molina says, and the mountain lion cub will need a great deal of care, Reuters reported. Molina estimates the cub is one of only four albino pumas in the world, he told the outlet.
In the wild, albinism is often a death sentence. However, in 2013, a white cougar was spotted wandering a forest in Brazil, National Geographic reported in 2020, though the animal hasn’t been seen since.