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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 June 2006, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
Skunk pair fail to earn stripes
The female albino skunks at Exmoor Zoo
The female albino skunks were born five weeks ago
Two new arrivals at a Devon zoo are causing something of a stink.

Staff at Exmoor Zoo were delighted when their female skunk gave birth to a new litter of kittens five weeks ago.

Normally skunks have distinctive black and white striped coats, but two of the litter of five are albino and are completely white with pink eyes.

Staff said the arrival of the albino kittens, who have not yet been named, was "very rare". They will be put on public display in the next few weeks.

Colour mutations like this in the wild are very rare
Danny Reynolds, Exmoor Zoo curator

The surprise pair, both females, were among the first litter of skunks to be born at the zoo although skunks have been part of the zoo for more than 10 years.

Curator Danny Reynolds said: "We are delighted, colour mutations like this in the wild are very rare, probably as few as one in 20,000.

"When we checked them a few days after they were born we couldn't believe our eyes."

The skunks' black and white stripes serve as a warning of their potential to protect themselves with an unpleasant smelling liquid which is sprayed at an attackers face.

It can cause temporary blindness and breathing problems.


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