Photos Show Rare White Newborn Baby Elephant With 'Pearly' Eyes

A rare, white newborn baby elephant with "pearly" eyes has been pictured with its mother in Myanmar.

The baby elephant was born on 23 July in the western Rakhine state to a 33-year-old elephant called Zar Nan Hla, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation-Forestry said in a statement.

White elephants are extremely rare. It is usually a result of albinism—a condition caused by a lack of pigment in the skin.

The Ministry of Natural Resources said the elephant possessed seven of the eight characteristics associated with white elephants. This included pearl-colored eyes, a "banana branch-shaped back," white hair, plot signs on the skin, light-colored skin, "five front claws and 5 hind claws," large ears, and a distinctive "palm-shaped" tail.

A picture posted by the ministry shows the elephant next to its mother. Although they are referred to as "white" elephants, their skin is usually more of a pink color, while other elephants usually have dark gray skin.

Albino elephant
The baby white elephant is pictured with its mother. Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation-Forestry

Buddhism is the dominant religion in Myanmar. Historically, many Buddhists believed that white elephants are a sign of luck and good fortune.

Ancient texts describe Buddha as being reincarnated from a white elephant. Because of their rarity, they were revered as godlike creatures and ancient rulers sought to acquire as many as possible, as they believed it would bring them good fortune.

In total, there are six white elephants kept in captivity in Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar.

In the wild, albinism can cause complications for elephants. Their pearl-colored eyes are a typical characteristic of the condition, often meaning poor eyesight. Some albino elephants end up losing their eyesight altogether.

Their skin is also particularly sensitive to sunlight. Occasionally, newborn white elephants are rejected by their own family because of their unusual appearance.

However, the Ministry of Natural Resources said that at 10 days old, this calf is living happily with its mother.

The elephant has reached a height of 2 feet 5 and a half inches and weighs about 190 pounds.

Albino elephant
The baby white elephant is pictured with its trunk in the air. Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation-Forestry

Newsweek has contacted the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation-Forestry for a comment.

In March, a baby African albino elephant was spotted playing with her adopted family. As white elephants are sometimes rejected by their family, they will sometimes need to be accepted into a new herd in order to survive.

The African baby elephant, called Khanyisa, can also use her adopted herd to shelter from the sun and protect her skin.