Even little kids know that zebras, a favorite in the animal world, have distinctive black and white stripes. This has been the pattern for thousands of years. But every so often, nature comes out with unexpected surprises that only prove that she is truly unpredictable. For instance, can you imagine seeing a spotted zebra?
Such a rarity could only draw attention and with today's internet, news such as this spreads like wildfire. The birth of the foal happened in Kenya, Africa at the Massai Mara Game Reserve.
Nature photographer Antony Tira captured pictures of the rare foal and initially thought it was a "blacker" zebra, thinking it had this color for migration purposes. "Blacker" zebras are extremely rare and have a dark color pigmentation in their coat.
Animals who deviate from the normal are incredibly rare and their conditions are usually attributed to gene mutations. When this happens, people start to speculate on how it happened.
Could it be that the mother spent too much time with a wildebeest, an antelope or any other animal? At times the suggestions could border on the ridiculous. Nobody knows what causes a mutation. Some scientists believe it's a consequence of recessive genes.
With zebras, the norm is they have stripes and foals born with spotted coats are a rarity. Then again, we may deviate from the topic and ask what's with the stripes anyway?
Scientists think that the stripes help the zebra cool down while grazing for their food. They need some sort of temperature regulation because they cannot digest their food as efficiently as the other African ruminants. Because of this, they need more time to graze under the African sun.
Other scientists think that the stripes help with camouflage to avoid predators. Some also believe the stripes keep pesky flies away. Fortunately, our little spotted foal won't have to worry about predators as it lives in a reserve. Sadly, the foal has a dire and short future. One wildlife specialist claims that other zebras born in African parks with some form of melanism in did not live more than 6 months after their birth.
When the foal's photographs hit the internet, it did create a great deal of interest. Most, of course, gave "cute" comments while others were more concerned about the foal's condition and health. There are those who felt worried where they would raise the spotted wonder. All these comments showed how so many people have fallen in love with the baby zebra and their desire to keep it protected.
Obviously, most of the theories of parentage of our little friend are just comical, if not crazy. It's safe to assume that no interbreeding occurred between two unrelated species to create the wonder of nature. Nature is full of surprises and this rarity is just one of them.
Our spotted friend may have kept the internet abuzz for being incredibly adorable but if we dissected its plight more seriously, the little tyke may lack some of the significant benefits of having stripes. One thing's for sure, we would like to see more photos of this foal growing up until hopefully, he grows into a happy adult with spots.