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Albino raccoon spotted in Richmond Hill

The all-white trash panda was first mistaken for a possum.

Richmond Hill resident Paula Gianasi snapped this pic of an albino raccoon in her backyard.

Metroland Media

Richmond Hill resident Paula Gianasi snapped this pic of an albino raccoon in her backyard.

Move over, white squirrel. Toronto’s newest pale critter mascot is an albino raccoon.

The all-white trash panda was spotted recently in Richmond Hill by resident Paula Gianasi. She saw it wandering through her backyard and initially mistook it for a possum.

“He seemed rather docile. He was not scared off by my dog barking,” she told the Richmond Hill Liberal.

Gianasi posted some photos of the animal online, and one caught the eye of York University professor – and raccoon expert – Suzanne MacDonald, who confirmed it was an albino raccoon.

MacDonald told Metro albino raccoons are “rare, but not unheard of,” occurring in about one in every 10,000 births.

“What is rare is to see them past infancy, as most die soon after birth, usually eaten by predators given that they are easy to spot,” she said.

Albino animals are also likely to have “genetic weaknesses,” including limited hearing and vision, which further reduces their chances of survival, said Nathalie Karvonen with the Toronto Wildlife Centre.

Karvonen said the centre receives about one albino animal – of any species – a year. In the past, they’ve cared for albino squirrels, raccoons, possums and even an albino crow.

She advised anyone who spots an albino animal to keep a close eye on its health.

“If it seems to be doing fine, there’s no reason to capture it. You can’t treat albinoism,” she said. “But if it seems to be struggling or getting skinny, that’s a different story.”

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