Spot the difference.
A US zoo has welcomed one of the rarest animals born in captivity: a giraffe without spots.
The female Reticulated giraffe, with a uniform brown colour, arrived at Brights Zoo in Tennessee on July 31. According to zookeepers she is the first to be born with the rare pigmentation since 1972, when Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo reported the last all-tan specimen.
In the wild, giraffes’ distinctive pattern is designed to camouflage them in the scrub of sub-Saharan Africa. The spots also contain vascular blood vessels that can allow them to regulate their temperature in the heat.
While each giraffe is born with a different cluster of marks, like a fingerprint that is unique to the animal, it is extremely rare for them to be born in a uniform colour.
The park says it hopes to use the unusual birth to highlight the plight of giraffes in the wild, which fall victim to poaching.
To do so, Bright zoo is holding a competition to name the newcomer.
From today the public can go to their Facebook page to pick a moniker for the monocoloured animal.
“The international coverage of our patternless baby giraffe has created a much-needed spotlight on giraffe conservation,” the founder of Brights zoo, Tony Bright, told local television news station WCYB.
“Wild populations are silently slipping into extinction, with 40 per cent of the wild giraffe population lost in just the last three decades.”
The shortlisted options are Kipekee, which means “unique” in Swahili; Firayali, which means unusual; Shakiri, which means “she is most beautiful”; and Jamella, which is “one of great beauty”.
Two subspecies of giraffe, Kordofan and Nubian giraffes, listed as critically endangered whereas Reticulated giraffes, like the one born at Brights zoo, are classified as endangered.