After noticing a unique zebra at Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya, a Maasai guide gave it his family name, Tira.
Antony Tira, a tour guide and photographer at Matira Bush Camp, noticed the black dotted foal while observing the park’s game reserve near the Mara River.
It has none of the zebra’s distinctive white and black stripes, but it has a short, hairless tail and an unusual dark brown coat with white polka dot-like markings. It looked fragile, likely about a week old.
Parmale Lemein, a wildlife specialist from the Matira Bush Camp, reported that black dotted foal is believed to be the first of its kind to be seen in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, which a preserved area of the savannah in southwestern Kenya.
Unfortunately, he added that no zebras with the same condition in other parks in Africa had survived for longer than six months after being born.
Antony initially thought the newborn zebra had been captured and marked ‘for the purposes of migration’, but on closer inspection, he realized the young foal a melanin disorder.
Ren Larison, a biologist studying the evolution of zebra stripes at the University of California, Los Angeles, explains that Tira and other such foals have a condition called pseudomelanism, which is a rare genetic mutation in which animals display some sort of abnormality in their stripe pattern.
Zebras recognize each other by their markings, which are unique for each animal. The stripes are believed to be not for camouflage but to ward off horsefly bites, which are both dangerous and annoying.
Daily Nation reports that the polka-dotted zebra caused a stampede at Maasai Mara National Reserve, and the place is crowded with tour drivers and photographers.
As soon as the photos of the adorable zebra were posted online, the internet has gone wild. Tira has already captured many a heart, and photos of her adorable appearance have gone viral.
What’s more, we can now end the dilemma of whether zebras are white with black stripes or black with white stripes!