This zebra foal was born with spots instead of the species’ signature stripes. A rare baby, the spotted baby zebra has become an online sensation and has increased tourism within Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve since it was first seen in September of 2019.
The baby zebra, which has been named Tira, in fact has a genetic condition known as “pseudomelanism,” which causes abnormalities in zebra stripe patterns, as Ren Larison, a biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, explains to Katie Stacey of National Geographic. Zebras are dark-skinned animals, and their stripes arise from specialized skin cells called melanocytes, which transfer melanin into some of their hairs; the hairs that have melanin appear black, and those that do not appear white. But on rare occasions, something goes awry and the melanin does not manifest as stripes.
Next, see the conservation work at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya in this next video: Larro’s Rescue.