Frank Liu, the photographer who stumbled upon this incredibly-rare polka-dotted zebra, claims she 'looked like a different species altogether.'
Nature and wildlife never cease to amaze us. Just when you think our world is heading towards doom, considering how we are hardly doing anything to tackle climate change, deforestation, poaching of animals, and whatnot, there are certain moments in nature that truly leave us spellbound.
And in one such spectacular moment, Frank Liu, a photographer who was out looking to take photos of rhinos in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, stumbled upon this incredibly-rare polka-dotted zebra, which he claims 'looked like a different species altogether.' He added that it looked about a week old. As reported by National Geographic.
Lui was accompanied by Antony Tira, a Maasai guide who actually first spotted the foal and named him Tira.
The picture has been going viral on social media for all the right reasons. Shared by Facebook page Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association on September 14, the photo shows the zebra covered in a pattern of small stripes and spots across its skin.
Even popular blogger Mutuma Untamed wrote on Facebook: "Did you know, last week a Maasai guide discovered a one of a kind hybrid baby zebra in the Maasai Mara. It is named after his surname - Tira.
"A few years ago there was a similar case, however, that zebra still maintained the stripes and brush-like tail. Rare Tira, however, has patterns that appear as polka dots."
According to Ren Larison, a biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, the foals have a condition called pseudomelanism. It is said to be a rare genetic mutation, displaying a sort of abnormality in their stripe pattern.
Sadly, Larison believes that the zebra may not survive for long because of her condition. “Research on other species has shown that, while it is harder for a predator to target an individual in a group, it is easier if an individual is different,” she said.
I know many of you have seen a stripped #zebra 🦓 on #safari or in a zoo, but how many of you have seen this rare polka dotted beauty in the wild? Photographed in Masai Mara recently, this zebra calf is one of a kind in the African wilderness.— Wito Africa Safaris (@witosafaris) September 15, 2019
- -#zebra#RidersLive #WitoAfrica pic.twitter.com/UDxf4NmKNS
According to scientists, zebras who are born with the same condition in other parks in Africa have sadly not lived longer than six months after being born.
“There are a variety of mutations that can disturb the process of melanin synthesis, and in all of those disorders, the melanocytes are believed to be normally distributed, but the melanin they make is abnormal,” Greg Barsh, a geneticist at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, was quoted as saying by Nat Geo.
this polka dot zebra is me trying to fit in the society pic.twitter.com/ekxNSi2F9A— wendy 🧚🏻♀️ (@fragileblondee) September 17, 2019
If you have always been confused about whether zebras are black with white stripes or white with black stripes, you are not alone. But let's end this age-old debate now.
The zebra stripes are formed when melanin is held back and actually, the 'default' colour of a zebra is black. So, in fact, zebras are actually black with white stripes.