Match, a showcase for the biggest stars, welcomed a unique star to its pages in May 1967: Snowflake, the only albino gorilla known to date. Captured the previous year in Equatorial Guinea, then a Spanish colony, the little orphaned eighteen-month-old primate had been taken in by the Barcelona zoo, where he would become the most famous attraction. Our reporters had met “Copito de Nieve” at Dr. Luera, director of the zoo, and his wife Maria Garcia, who had become his “adoptive mother”… And this first report is not the only appearance of Flocon de Neige in our magazine, since in 1969, the primate had been honored by Salvador Dali during a surreal walk in the streets of Barcelona…
White hair, pink skin and blue eyes, reduced visual acuity and hypersensitivity to light… Snowflake’s albinism was similar to that of humans. According to a study by Spanish researchers, mentioned by the magazine Géo in November 2021, his condition would have been the consequence of the consanguinity of his parents. Snowflake had 21 offspring from three different females, and only five survived, one male and four females. Still according to Geo, none of the descendants of the primate is albino, but all are carriers of the genetic mutation. Snowflake died on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2003, from skin cancer caused by his sensitivity to light. He was between 38 and 40 years old, a good age for a gorilla.
Here is the report dedicated to Snowflake, as published in Paris Match in 1967.
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Paris Match n°943, May 6, 1967
We only know one white gorilla in the world, here it is
Report Gabriel Conesa – Jorge Sabater – Philippe Le Tellier
“Nfum Ngui! (“A white gorilla!”) In Nko, a village lost in the African forest, legend has it that dead wizards are reincarnated as gorillas. Earlier, we saw fifteen or twenty black silhouettes. A shot: a dark mass falls. The man with the gun approaches. In the night, very close to the female he has just killed, a small snowball moans. Five days later, the curator of the Ikunde zoo (Rio Muni) cabled Barcelona: “We have captured the first white gorilla in the world, he is an eighteen-month-old orphan. »
For the small phenomenon, every week: compulsory medical visit
“He is a difficult child. He has fragile bronchial tubes and he is very nervous,” Copito’s adoptive mother is speaking. A month after its capture, the baby white gorilla left Spanish Guinea for Barcelona. When he got off the plane, he was expected by the director of the Barcelona zoo and his deputy, Dr. Luera. A medical examination was essential. “I’m taking him home,” says Dr. Luera. A few minutes later, his wife, Maria Garcia, decided to adopt the “patient”. Dr. Luera’s first observation: “You have to put him on a diet, he eats way too much for his age. » Copito’s menu today: yoghurt and galette for breakfast. A kilo of bananas and half a pound of apples or pears for lunch. Fruit jellies, chicken or York ham for dinner. “But, says Maria Garcia Lucra, as soon as my back is turned he goes snooping around in the refrigerator. Copito, despite the imposed diet, has adapted perfectly to the lifestyle of men. Only one thing is unbearable to him: the telephone. He’s already broken two
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