Giraffes are known for being covered from head to hoof in brown spots. But this summer, a rare spot-free giraffe was born at Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tennessee. It was named Kipekee, which means “unique” in the Swahili language. At the time, experts thought Kipekee was the only all-brown giraffe in the world. 

Then, a few weeks later, a photographer took photos of another spotless giraffe. It was roaming the wild in Namibia, a country in Africa. It’s the first all-brown giraffe seen in the wild.

“It was mind-blowing,” says Sara Ferguson. She’s a veterinarian at the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. “It highlights how much we still don’t know and haven’t seen in wildlife.”

Ferguson says it’s unclear exactly what caused the two spot-free giraffes’ unusual coloring.

Brights Zoo/Cover Images via AP Images

This spot-free giraffe was 6 feet tall when she was born in July at a Tennessee zoo. 

Under Threat

No two giraffes are born with the same spot pattern. The markings act as camouflage. They help the world’s tallest animals blend in with their surroundings, protecting them from lions, leopards, and other predators. 

But predators aren’t the only danger to giraffes. Habitat loss is one of the biggest threats. Humans have taken over many areas where giraffes once roamed. People use that land for farming and logging. Another major problem is poaching. Hunters illegally kill giraffes for their meat and fur. 

As a result, only about 117,000 giraffes remain in the wild. That’s down from more than 155,000 in the 1980s. 

Ferguson is thankful the two spotless animals are making headlines—and bringing attention to the threats all wild giraffes face. 

“Giraffes are really cool,” she says. “Having these interesting giraffes helps us raise awareness.”

Eckart Demasius/Giraffe Conservation Foundation/Cover Images via AP Images

A spotless giraffe runs behind its mother in Namibia.

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