Pink Hippo Spotted in Kenya

Two brothers, Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas, reported on their blog they were traveling through the Masai Mara wild animal preserve and were surprised to spy a pink hippo on the banks of the Mara River.

The brothers kept a respectful distance from the extremely rare hippo, using a 600mm telephoto lens to photograph it. The animal was only out of the water for several minutes, before it returned to the river. In the water, the pink hippo was observed submerging and surfacing for air, but was not visible very long.

They showed a keen concern for the animal’s well-being on their blog, “Being an animal that is so strikingly different often results in a hard life; these creatures frequently become outcasts, rejected by their conventionally colored peers. In this case however, we were relieved to note that the other hippos seemed to be treating the pink hippo just like any other.”

After returning to the UK, Will and Matt began researching the very rare individual and found none had been reported in the Mara River area. The only reports they found were of sightings in Uganda, and those apparently are very small in number.

Research conducted by the brothers lead them to believe the hippo is leucistic and not albino, because it has dark eyes (not pink or red) and pigmentation on its back. Leucism is a reduction of all types of pigmentation, not just of melanin. However, leucistic animals are generally white in color. So a pink leucistic hippo would be even more rare. Wildlife Extra News has a whole page with animal images and text on leucism, with some references to albinism. With some animals it isn’t clear exactly which genetic condition causes white or pink hair, skin or eye color.

The Burrard-Lucas brothers did a very good job both photographing and writing about the pink hippo. On their blog, they said they will be releasing more photos. While reading about such a rare animal and observing the photos is very enjoyable, one also wonders if so much media exposure doesn’t encourage many other tourists to seek out the pink hippo, and unintentionally cause it stress or even accidental harm, such as feeding it human food which might make it sick, or getting too close and driving it away from its natural habitat.

Image Credit: Burrard-Lucas

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Terry V.
Terry V.3 years ago

beautiful and my favorite color

Ajla C.
Past Member 3 years ago

hval na članku

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton3 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Tanja Z.
Tanja Zilker3 years ago

wow, very interesting

Lydia Price

On the flip-side, media exposure may help protect this rare and unusual animal. Poaching still occurs but is less likely and less frequent in areas where rare animals are being kept track of from around the world. Being convicted of harming a media darling usually results in stiffer penalties and prison terms. I know it's not fair, but often these guys get away with it unless there is a large, targeted outcry.

Nyack Clancy
Nyack Clancy3 years ago

wow- interesting. Are they sure it isn't a badly sunburned white albino?

Heather Marvin
Heather Marv3 years ago

Maybe special protection should be put on the hippo, telling poachers you touch the animal and we will fine you a HUGE amount of fine or/and jail.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.3 years ago


Cheryl B.
Cheryl B.3 years ago


Ailsa Porter
Ailsa Porter3 years ago

Beautiful! And I would love to see someone trying to feed the hippo! They would become the food!