(Gray News) – This really isn’t a horse of a different color.
But a different pattern? Definitely.
Photographer Frank Liu was shooting pictures in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve last week when his guide noticed a rare spotted zebra and took him to see it.
“Last night a Maasai guide discovered a one of a kind genetically mutated baby zebra in Maasai Mara and named it after his surname – Tira,” Lui said in an Instagram post. “I hope the experts will look into this case and share some interesting discoveries soon!”
The condition that caused the polka dots is called pseudo-melanism. It creates dark or darker spots or enlarged stripes, which cover a large part of the animal’s body instead of its normal coloring.
Tira certainly does stand out in a crowd, or in this case, a herd.
The foal’s future is uncertain, according to National Geographic.
Typically, zebras with unusual coloration don’t survive too long.
“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,” Ren Larison, a biologist studying the evolution of zebra stripes at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the magazine.
If Tira does make it to adulthood, researchers say there’s no reason to think he can’t fit into the herd. Other zebras with unique coloring and patterns have thrived on other parts of the continent.