A wildlife photographer has shared images of his incredible discovery, after finding a little zebra foal with a polka dotted coat, instead of the animal’s distinctive stripes.
Wildlife photographer Frank Liu saw the spotted zebra during an expedition at the Maasai Mara National Reserve, in Kenya, where he was hoping to photograph rhinos.
The dark-coloured zebra’s unusual colouring is likely the result of a genetic mutation, which gives the foal its distinctive coat, according to National Geographic.
Mr Liu told National Geographic he originally thought the zebra was “a different species altogether”. A local guide who spotted the foal with Mr Liu gave it the name Tira.
“Last night a Maasai guide discovered an one of a kind genetically mutated baby zebra in Maasai Mara and named it after his surname — Tira,” Mr Liu wrote on his Instagram.
“This morning we were one of the first ones to visit Tira!
“Few years ago there was a similar case, however that zebra still maintained the stripes and brush-like tail.
“Tira, however, has patterns that appear as polka dots!
“I hope the experts will look into this case and share some interesting discoveries soon!”
The plains zebra likely has a mutation called “pseudomelanism”, which is characterised by an animal having dark spots and larger dark stripes in their coat.
Sadly, predators often target animals with distinctive colourations, and research has shown they are less likely to live long lives. This is because the animals are more easily spotted from among their pack.
The foal, who is believed to be about one week old, is the first sighting of its kind in the Maasai Mara area in Kenya. Similarly coloured zebras have reportedly been seen in parts of Botswana in southern Africa.
— with Caters
Originally published as Rare spotted baby zebra discovered