Zebras wear the most dramatic, fashionable stripes in nature, but one baby zebra is bucking the fashion trend by sporting polka dots instead. A zebra foal named Tira apparently has a rare genetic mutation that gives him dark fur and spots instead of the classic stripes.
Spotting the Spots
The unusual baby zebra was born at Maasai Mara Nature Reserve in Kenya. When reserve tour guide and photographer Anthony Tira was making the rounds of the zebra community in September, he spotted the unusual foal.
The reserve has a rule that whoever finds a rare or unusual animal can name the animal, which is how Tira got his name. Tira is a draw for hundreds of visitors at the reserve and millions of fans online.
We’re All Talking Tira
Tim Caro, a zebra expert at the UC Davis, said a zebra’s stripes are important for keeping cool, hiding from predators and warding off biting flies. Since little Tira lacks this striping, he might be more susceptible to bites and predators.
For the moment, Tira is living happily at the reserve with his mother and doing all the normal zebra things. Meanwhile, the world is pulling for this special spotted baby.
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