Snowflake

Barcelona Zoo's Legendary Albino Gorilla

Snowflake was a Western gorilla from Equatorial Guinea, who was the main attraction at Barcelona Zoo from his arrival in 1967 until his death in 2003 because he was the only known albino gorilla in the world.

He was probably born in 1964 and was captured on October 1st just outside the town of Nko in Equatorial Guinea by a hunter called Benito Manié of the Fang ethnicity.

Manié sold him to the primatologist Jordi Sabater Pi, who worked at the Centre d'Experimentació Zoològica d'Ikunde, dependent on Barcelona Zoo, for the equivalent of 20,000 pesetas.

His original name in Fang was Nfumu Ngui, which means white gorilla, and Jordi Sabater gave him the name Floquet de Neu, which is Copito de Nieve in Spanish and Snowflake in English.

He arrived in Barcelona on November 1st 1966 and was officially presented by Barcelona mayor, Josep Maria de Porcioles, on El Dia de Sant Josep, March 19th 1967.

Floquet de Neu or Copito de Nieve was an immediate sensation with the Catalan and Spanish monarchy and Snowflake became famous worldwide when National Geographic had him on the cover just a few days after the presentation in Barcelona.

I had the good fortune to see him on a number of occasions with my daughter in the 1990s and he definitely was a charismatic character, fully aware that he was a star attraction.

In 2001, Snowflake was diagnosed with skin cancer and in order to save him from suffering euthanasia was applied on November 24th 2003. A few days later an asteroid was named 95962 Copito in his honour.

Snowflake was at least 39 years old, older than the average of 25 for his species, and he left 22 descendants none of whom are albino. Barcelona Zoo is often asked to clone him, which would now be scientifically possible as examples of his DNA were kept.







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