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Rare Albino Mountain Goat Found in Italian Alps

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. He 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.

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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.