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Vanya did not notice the other Enderman, focusing on feeling his way forward. Even if he moved on all fours, he seemed comfortable in that posture, as if he was built to move on two or four. It was useful, allowing him to feel obstacles with the feathering on his arms, and his hair. Feel things blocking his breath. He moved slowly, but so far managed to avoid obstacles. His sense of smell was a little dampened at the moment thanks to the potent scent mark he’d left at the cave; the breeze blew towards him, hiding most other scents.  But he had gotten far enough that the scent was not as strong, hard to detect what it was aside from the clear but unique musky scent on the breeze.
The voice startled Vanya out of his concentration, making his head go up as he listened around. He tripped over a rock and bumped into a tree with a light huff, before shaking his head.
“Who are you?” He didn’t answer the questions at first, before he shook himself again, remembering his manners. “I… am, very lost. I don’t know this world, I came here from Darkrealm. My brother is dead, humans killed him, and I am blind. He was my guide… I need to find somewhere safe for shelter.“
He manages to keep his voice even, not wanting to cry in front of a stranger, even if speaking of his brother’s death brought it all back,
He still had blood in his fur, though he had groomed most of it off in a couple pauses along his way.

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The popularity of an albino dolphin in Japan got me wondering about albino animals. How does albinism happen? How common is it? And, most pressingly, what’s the cutest albino animal?

Albinism – a lack of pigment in the skin, eyes, and hair – can be present in any species. Passed down genetically, albinism is especially rare in the animal kingdom because the white individuals are easy to pick out by predators. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, people have witnessed incidents of albinism in over 300 species in North America.

Since albino animals are so rare, humans will go at great length to capture or protect them. Let’s take a look at some of the more famous albino animals I’m obsessed with.

The latest popular albino animal is a pink dolphin named Angel that was captured off the coast of Japan and is now living at the Taji Whale Museum. Angel’s controversial capture and treatment has echoes of the sad story of Carolina Snowball, a dolphin that was captured, resisted training, and eventually died in the Miami Seaquarium. There have only been fourteen reported albino bottlenose dolphins in history, so let’s hope Angel is being treated well.

A somewhat happier story is that of Claude, the albino alligator who lives in the California Academy of Sciences. Born in captivity, Claude’s only run-in with a predator was an incident where his swamp-mate bit his foot after Claude bumped into her (due to his poor vision). Claude spends the majority of his time posing for haunting swamp photos.

But my favorite is Migaloo, the albino humpback whale. Migaloo migrates past Australia every year on his way from Antarctica to Tropical North Queensland. Until 2011, he was believed to be the only albino whale in the world, until a baby humpback, also all-white, showed up. Now the world tracks sightings of Migaloo (pictured below) and Migaloo, Jr.

Since all of these beautiful animals are more susceptible to predators, skin diseases, and eyesight problems, we’ve got to take special care to protect the albino animals we have in captivity. And when you see an albino animal in the wild, stop and take it all in: you’re witnessing something extremely rare.

(Text Credit: Julia Pistell, WNPR / Image Credits: Flickr Creative Commons: Peter G. Trimming, Tambako the Jaguar, meantux, randychiu, emmettanders)