A spotless giraffe, thought to be the only one in the world, has been born at Brights Zoo in Tennessee.
Missing the spots that are characteristic of the long-necked mammal, the female giraffe is instead a solid brown colour.
Brights Zoo has said the calf is already 6ft tall and is currently being cared for by staff and her mother.
In the wild, a giraffe’s patches mainly work as a form of camouflage – while the skin under the spots contain a system of blood vessels that help the animal regulate body heat.
Experts believe that the spotless giraffe is the only one of its kind
“Giraffe experts believe she is the only solid-coloured reticulated giraffe living anywhere on the planet,” the zoo said in a press release.
Reticulated giraffes, which have brown and orange spots and are native to Africa, were listed as an endangered species in 2018, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
The zoo is hoping the headline-making giraffe will bring attention to the challenges the species faces in the wild.
“The international coverage of our patternless baby giraffe has created a much-needed spotlight on giraffe conservation,” said Tony Bright, founder of Brights Zoo, to local television news station WCYB.
“Wild populations are silently slipping into extinction, with 40% of the wild giraffe population lost in just the last 3 decades.”
The zoo is now offering its visitors the choice of four names to vote on to name the rare animal:
- Kipekee – which means unique
- Firyali – which means unusual or extraordinary
- Shakiri – which means “she is most beautiful”
- Jamella – which means “one of great beauty”.