Nature never ceases to amaze us: from the albino gorilla named Snowflake, a dog named Narwhal who was born with a small tail on its forehead, the unmistakable pink manta ray of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, a spotted zebra in the Maasai Mara and now, a giraffe without spots.
These are just a few examples of one-of-a-kind animals whose discovery has stunned the world due to their peculiar characteristics, but they are definitely not the only ones.
The private zoo Brights Zoo in Tennessee, United States, active since 2007, has reported the recent birth of a Somali giraffe (Giraffa reticulata) visibly different from the rest of its species: all of it is a solid reddish-brown color, without the pattern of spots typical of this variety.
Less than a month old, the calf already measures more than 1 meter and 80 centimeters, and is perfectly integrated into the zoo's herd of reticulated giraffes despite its obvious aesthetic differences, cared for by its mother and the keepers of the facilities.
Experts consider that it is probably the only specimen that currently exists in the world, since the life of a giraffe is usually approximately 25 to 30 years. In 1972, the last known unspotted giraffe was born at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo.
The unique pattern of the Somali giraffe
There is much more to the distinctive polygonal markings on giraffe fur than meets the eye. They actually have some specific functions:
Camouflage: The natural habitat of this giraffe species is the bush savannah of northern Kenya, Somalia, and southern Ethiopia. The colors and shapes of its fur help this animal to hide from its predators.
Thermal regulation: as explained by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), each of the spots that are part of the pattern contains a system of blood vessels that serve to expel body heat.
Unique patterns that are inherited: Although all the spots of the same species are very similar, they have small differences in shape, quantity, color fastness, etc. Evolutionary biology studies suggest that these particularities are transmitted genetically from mothers to children.
The spotless giraffe is already integrated into the herd, despite its physical differences with the rest of the specimens.
Take this opportunity
Beyond the birth of this extraordinary creature, the Bright Zoo has highlighted through local media that the public and media attention received internationally provides the opportunity to open an important conversation: Somali giraffes are in danger of extinction.
According to the GCF, this animal is suffering a rapid population decline in its natural habitat, which has decreased by up to 50% in the last 3 decades.
There are 4 species of giraffe, with different genetic characteristics that produce significant differences in their physical appearance, including the general morphology of the animal and the shape and color of its spots.
Although some species have been more affected than others, all of them are vulnerable or have entered the list of endangered animals. For this reason it is important to act urgently in favor of its conservation.
Your name, contest
Brights Zoo has decided to leave the final decision on the name of the peculiar baby giraffe up to the public through a survey shared on its official Facebook page.
Participants will have a limited time to choose between 4 preselected options: 4 words in Swahili that define some of the characteristics of the newborn.
Shakiri,: "she is the most beautiful"
Jamella: “one of great beauty”
(Tomado de National Geographic) (Foto: Shutterstock)