Snowflake: The White Gorilla

For nearly 40 years an albino gorilla named Snowflake was adored by people around the world.

In 1967, local villagers in Africa’s Equitorial Guinea captured a remarkable baby gorilla. This young male was unlike any gorilla the villagers had seen before; instead of the thick brown fur of most gorillas, this baby had a coat of pure white. Through a series of fortunate circumstances, the rare white gorilla ended up at the Barcelona Zoo, where he became an international star. He was given the Spanish name Copito de Nieve and the English name Snowflake.

NATURE’s Snowflake: The White Gorilla tells the story of this remarkable animal, from his loving upbringing by humans to his eventual death from skin cancer in 2003. It also tracks the revolutionary changes in our understanding of how best to care for gorillas that have taken place during Snowflake’s lifetime.

Captive gorillas were once confined to solitary cells and fed meat. Today, some zoos spend millions constructing environments that are more in keeping with gorillas’ natural habitats, where the animals can live in groups as they do in the wild. We now know that gorillas are vegetarians and have adapted feeding practices accordingly. Since 1956, when the first baby gorilla was born in captivity at an Ohio zoo, zoos have developed new and better ways to nurture gorilla families.

Let NATURE’s Snowflake: The White Gorilla take you on a fascinating excursion into this remarkable world and introduce you to history’s only known albino gorilla.

Online content for Snowflake: The White Gorilla was originally posted February 2005.

  • Curt Schwalbe

    We saw the program on local pbs several weeks ago.
    A well done presentation.
    I also purchased the DVD for my daughter Maria Schwalbe who is a primate keeper @ the Phila Zoo for many years.
    She has seen the program before however I am sure she will never tire of viewing it.
    Curt Schwalbe

  • biplabbora54

    it’s ok

  • jerry curl

    what god wants… god gets.

  • Juju

    wow never seen or herd of a white gorilla my goddness

  • Frank Inello

    Thank you Snowflake for sharing your priceless life with the world. I hope your sacrafice of freedom by confindment opens the hearts of all humans to show how we are all really conecceted as ONE and must live as such if we want to exist.

  • Mitul Patel

    Remarkable.Maybe,his species may still survive because he was found ny villagers so maybe a colony of white gorilla’s exist.A rare creater who was givin life my God.Hopefully that this rare gorilla’s legacy is streached for far long.But sadly villagers kill gorilla’s for food.SAD :(

  • Caroline Crompton

    I was lucky enough to watch this magnificent creature many times. He moved me beyond words & I miss him terribly.

  • Girard Tell

    Wow, that Snowflake can make one wonder.

  • Steven Handy

    Hey girard, watcha wondering about?

  • lara

    how amasing is that!i’m at a loss for words!

  • Lauren Farnden

    This poor aniaml died and yet i got to see it years ago.

  • gorilla lover23

    i love white gorilla and so does rey!!!!!!!….0000oooo yeahhh and jj

  • denise

    i will miss you snowflake you really mean alot to us

  • dave dawson

    i got to see snowflake when i was a young lad he was amazing you stuck 2 fingers up at him and he did it back me and my cousin had a right laugh with him he made our holiday sorry to know hes dead and it brouhgt a tier to my eye rest in peace snowflake

  • arbaaz khan

    R.I.P. snowflake

    i never even knew there that a white gorlla at all

  • m3stomachs

    I’m very Sadden that Snowflake had to be put down . He was such an amazing creature from his species to watch. He will be missed.

  • kayleigh smith

    it was so sad loosing him .he e was looked after so much.



  • Harold

    Maybe it was better to put him to rest …he might have suffered from pain.

    I am glad that people take the effort to write about him, I read that thousands of people were there just before he was put to rest.At least he was not alone .

    Thank you Snowflake, you were very special!

  • Doug Garner

    a girl i had a crush on did a report on Snowflake in school,(late 60s). every so often I would see Snowflake on the cover of Nat’l. Geo. Years after that,I joined the Navy.At one point ,my ship(LPD-4,USS Austin)stopped in Barcelons. Went to the old amusement park was,(where the Olympiv Village is now). Then visited the wax musse. My last day there,I stopped off at the zoo. Guess what?There was ‘ole Snowflake.It was like seeing an old friend!!!! Sad to hear he is gone. He was a poser. Loved him. Doug

  • Ricardo Americo

    No Brasil, assisti o filme, O Gorila Marfim(The Ivory Ape) nos anos 80; Depois nunca mais achei, senão fotos VHS na internet. Serve de tributo ao único gorila branco que morreu; Há também, The White Gorilla,1947.

  • victoria marie

    why did he have to die when i was three my mother told me he was so loving
    i love snowflake

    Name:little snowflake
    Lived: Barcelona Zoo
    died: november 24th 2003

    i have more informatio found from hundereds of sight so its about way bigger than the harry potter books because its one of the things that has my attention right now

  • Valerie P.

    I remember when I was in third or fourth grade, I did my first oral report and it was on Snowflake. He was on the cover of National Geographic magazine that my parents subscribed to at the time. I kept the copy for a while. Wish I still had it now.

  • jose Rodriguez

    I had a chance to see snowflake back in 1980 while serving in the US Navy. It was unforgettable moment in my life, I was home sick and he and I made a connection one I will never forget him.Rest in peace my friend. JR

Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC. All rights reserved.

PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.