Despite the social media furore the extraordinary birth of a flawless giraffe has sparked, there is evidence of similar cases happening more than 50 years ago.
That doesn’t happen often when it comes to spotless giraffes, but it can happen. In some rare cases, giraffes appear without the distinctive spotting pattern. This can be due to a genetic mutation or natural variations in skin pigmentation. Although these giraffes look different, they are still members of the same species and share many other characteristics with their spotted counterparts.
Nature continues to surprise many with surprising changes that challenge our beliefs. Over the years, some species exhibit patterns or shapes that would previously have been unimaginable. A prominent example of animals with unusual traits is Snowflake, a famous albino gorilla. Another special case is the narwhal dog, which was born with a small tail on its forehead. We can also mention the pink manta ray, a unique species that lives in the Great Australian Barrier Reef. In addition, there is a zebra in the Masai Mara that has spots instead of the traditional stripes. Now adding a spotless giraffe to this list, which is truly surprising and unique.
Looking for a name for the new giraffe
Home to more than 700 animals from 126 different species, including nine giraffes, Brights Zoo generated so much excitement that it decided to involve the public in the choice of a name for its new calf. Four options were offered through a vote on their Facebook page and more than 17,000 votes were received on the first day alone. Four Swahili names have been shortlisted: Kipekee (meaning unique), Firyali (meaning exceptional or unusual), Shakiri (meaning most beautiful), and Jamelia (meaning very beautiful). These names are meaningful and beautiful options to consider.
Spotless giraffe, a distinctive feature of the animal kingdom
A one-of-a-kind giraffe was recently born at Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tennessee: a reticulated giraffe. According to the zoo’s giraffe experts, this is the only known monochromatic giraffe of its kind in the world. This news was confirmed by an official statement from the zoo.
The pattern of complex spots on the giraffe’s fur serves several vital functions for this species. These markings allow them to evade predators by blending into their environment, regulating their body temperature, and protecting their delicate skin from sunburn. They also enable the identification of relatives and the differentiation of individuals from one another. When we come across a giraffe that lacks these traits, we naturally wonder what might have caused this mutation.
Zoo specialists have determined that this animal’s unusual color could be the result of a genetic mutation. Fortunately, no evidence of additional medical problems or genetic disabilities was found in the giraffe in question.
50 years have passed since the first immaculate giraffe
The newly hatched giraffe is visibly different from the rest of its kind in that it is all one colour. The zoo’s reticulated giraffe is a solid reddish-brown color and lacks the distinctive spotting pattern of this species. In addition, it measures more than 1 meter and 80 centimeters and, despite its obvious aesthetic differences, is perfectly integrated into its flock and is taken care of by its mother and the caretakers of the facilities.
Although many zoo visitors believe it to be the only species of its kind, the reality is that the last known immaculate giraffe was born at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo some 25 to 50 years ago, in 1972 to be precise.
According to information from National Geographic, an adult white giraffe and her calf were spotted in the eastern part of the African country in 2017, also displaying this unique trait. This sighting was remarkable and sparked great interest among wildlife experts and enthusiasts. Back then, these animals suffered from a genetic disease called leucism, which prevents skin cells from producing pigment but is different from albinism.
So far, no definitive explanation for the Tennessee Spotless Giraffe has been found. However, experts suspect that it could be a specific gene mutation or a combination of gene mutations.
About the spots
As is well known, there are 4 types of giraffes: the southern giraffe (Giraffa giraffa), which includes two subspecies, one from Angola (Giraffa giraffa angolensis) and the other from South Africa (Giraffa giraffa giraffa); Maasai giraffe (Giraffa tippelskirchi); the reticulated giraffe (Giraffa reticulata); And the giraffe of the north (Giraffa camelopardalis), which includes three subspecies, the Nubian giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis), the Nigerian giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis peralta) and the Kordofan’s giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis antiquorum).
The species have one thing in common: the distinctive, polygonal spots on their fur. In addition to being aesthetically striking, these signs also perform specific functions beyond what is apparent to the naked eye.
- Camouflage: The giraffe species in question is found in its natural habitat in the bush savannas of northern Kenya, Somalia and southern Ethiopia. Its fur has colors and shapes that allow it to camouflage itself and protect itself from potential predators.
- Thermoregulation: The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) explains that each giraffe’s pattern spot contains a system of blood vessels that help regulate their body temperature, allowing heat to be dissipated.
- Unique Patterns That Are Inherited: Although the spots of a species are very similar, there are small differences in their shape, number, and color fastness. Studies in evolutionary biology have found that these special traits are genetically transmitted from mother to child.
With information from: