Khanyisa’s hairy albino chin!

Elephants are anything but hirsute, but their sparse, strategically-placed hair is as important to them as is the head-to-toe covering preferred by many other mammals.

In murky waters the bristle-like hairs on the snouts of the Amazon river dolphins allow them to forage in the muddy sediment while the tip of an African elephants remarkable trunk has super-sensitive whiskers that are individually attached to nerves that travel the length of the trunk before feeding into the brain. Sensitive to the slightest touch, the hairs make the trunk about 10 times more sensitive than a human finger.

While elephants are not very hairy creatures, their tails certainly are an exception to this rule, with thick, coarse, black tail hairs that can reach a length of up to 100cm – all the better to scatter those flies.

The hairs that elephants do have tend to be black but in the case of the albino calf, Khanyisa, her tail, whiskers and body hairs lack any pigment and are a light blondish hue. Read more about tails here > 

While many mammals use their fur as protection from the baking African sun, as insulation from freezing winds and even as raincoats, the African elephants’ fine covering of hairs acts as natural radiators that allow the world’s largest land mammal to shed heat.

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