<
>

Italian park rangers document existence of rare albino mountain goat

6/28/2007
AP Photo

MILAN, Italy — Forest rangers in the northern Italian Alps
have confirmed for the first time the existence of an albino
mountain goat — and named him "Snowflake.''

Rangers took photos of the albino capra ibex climbing with its
mother Sunday at about 10,000 feet above the Les Laures valley in
the northwestern Val d'Aosta region, said Christian Chioso, a
regional wildlife official.

"This is the only one ever documented, the only one ever
seen,'' Chioso said by telephone on Monday.

Chioso said albinism is rare in any species and has not been previously documented among the capra ibex, a type of wild mountain goat with large curved
horns that lives in mountainous areas.

Chioso estimated the albino animal is about a year old.

Hikers had been reporting seeing a white animal at higher
elevations for months, and forest rangers have been keeping a
lookout, Chioso said.

The goat was seen near the boundaries of the Big Paradise
National Park, which was established to protect the species. Chiaso
said about 4,000 wild mountain goats populate the park.