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A Spotless Giraffe? They’re Rare, But They Exist

Is a giraffe still a giraffe without its spots? Yes, but it’s an incredibly rare sight. Before last year, the only spotless giraffe on record was a giraffe born in 1972 at a Japanese zoo. In 2023, a second spotless giraffe was born at a zoo in Tennessee. Researchers then spotted another of these incredibly rare animals in the wild just weeks later.

Bright’s Zoo in Tennessee took to Facebook to announce its rare baby last August. The public helped the zoo name the giraffe Kipekee, which the zoo says means “unique.”

As unique as Kipekee is, another young all-brown giraffe existed in the world, and the scientific community was about to catch its first glimpse.

“Only weeks after the birth of a spotless giraffe in a zoo in the USA made international headlines, the first spotless giraffe was ‘spotted’ in the wild in Namibia,” said the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF). “Photographed on a private game reserve in central Namibia, this young Angolan giraffe is the first spotless giraffe recorded in the wild in Africa.”

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Image courtesy of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation

Dr. Julian Fennessy, GCF’s co-founder and director of conservation, said genetic mutations could cause a giraffe’s lack of spots. However, without detailed genetic analysis, no one can be sure.

What are the chances two of these amazing animals would become known to the world within such a short time span?

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