Rare Zebra Photographed in Kenya Captures Global Attention

  • Tira walks through Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve with her mother.
    Tira walks through Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve with her mother.
    Frank Liu
  • On October 3, a resurfaced picture of a polka-doted Zebra photographed in Kenya captured the attention of the global - from Kenya to South Africa and the US.

    The photo, which was taken in 2019 at Masai Mara, was of a dark Zebra with white polka dots standing next to her mother in regular black and white stripes the species is widely-known for.

    The photo fast caught attention when it was posted by a Twitter account by the name, Fascinating, accompanied by the caption, 'A rare polka-dotted zebra foal named Tira, standing close to its mother in the Maasai Mara reserve in Kenya. Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba."

    The post quickly spread across Twitter and by the time of publishing, it had garnered 158,700 likes, 16,000 comments and 1,516 quote retweets.

    Tira the polka-doted Zebra photographed at Masai Mara in 2019
    Tira the polka-doted Zebra photographed at Masai Mara in 2019.
    NatGeo

    "Like Shakespeare said, 'Nature is above art.'" Celebrated Twitter user named Kay Rae Chomic.

    Another avid wildlife enthusiast used the opportunity to argue that the Tira's condition was proof that Zebras are black with white stripes - a debate that has raged the wildlife-verse for years.

    "Zebras are black with white stripes confirmed," posted Joshua Horne.

    In 2019 when the first photo of the Zebra was taken, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) told international press that no special attention would be paid on the animal.

    "KWS operates on the premise that animals should be in the wild. The zebra is not a special species, it is just a freak of nature.

    "It won't be fair to isolate the animal and from a conservation point of view that would inhumane. The zebras protect each other and it will be protected by its own. If a predator spots it and preys on it, it will be just the course of nature," stated KWS.

    According to the National Geographic, Tira suffers from a condition known as pseudomelanism which causes abnormalities in zebra stripe patterns.

    “There are a variety of mutations that can disturb the process of melanin synthesis, and in all of those disorders, the melanocytes are believed to be normally distributed, but the melanin they make is abnormal,” HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology geneticist Greg Barsh told the publication at the time.

    The whereabout of the zebra is unknown as of 2022.

    Entrance to Masai Mara National Reserve.
    Entrance to Masai Mara National Reserve.
    Twitter