Leopards may never change their spots – but zebras apparently change their stripes.
A rare polka-dotted zebra foal has been spotted at the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
Wildlife photographer Frank Liu photographed the striking foal, who was born with its special markings due to a genetic mutation called pseudomelanism.
“Last night a Maasai guide discovered a one-of-a-kind genetically mutated baby zebra… and named it after his surname – Tira,” Liu shared on Instagram last week.
Liu said he was one of the first people to visit baby Tira at the reserve.
“At first glance he looked like a different species altogether,” Liu told National Geographic.
Unfortunately, Tira’s future is likely to be uncertain. University of California biologist Ren Larison told the publication that zebras with abnormal markings usually have compromised life expectancies, as their eye-catching colouring makes them a prime target for predators.
Liu told Storyful that Tira has remained very close to his mother throughout the encounter, and was still by her side when he revisited the foal a few days later.