THE ZEBRA WITH SPOTS INSTEAD OF STRIPES
A few weeks ago, zebras got more news coverage than they have in a while, when a little baby zebra was spotted (literally) in Kenya’s Maasai Mara.
Tour guide, Antony Tira, and photographer, Frank Liu, were in search of rhinos when they spotted a zebra foal with a dark coat and white spots.
Only about a week old, the foal, now named Tira, looked almost like a different species completely.
Although each zebra’s stripes are unique as fingerprints, Tira’s spotted coat is the first recorded observation of this genetic mutation in the Maasai Mara. Foals with this same unusual dark coat have also been sighted in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
Tira’s spots instead of stripes is due to pseudomelanism – a rare genetic mutation where animals have a mutation in their strip patter. Zebras aren’t the only African mammals to experience quirks in their DNA – white (albino) lions, black springbuck, white springbuck and the Kenyan black serval, are just a few of Africa’s animals that have unique coats amongst their species.