First Spotless Giraffe In The Wild Spotted In Namibia

14 Sep 2023

Giraffe experts are baffled: In Namibia, a young giraffe was born without a spot pattern - only a few weeks after the same thing happened in a zoo in the USA. However, the two cases involve different giraffe species. 

The spotless giraffe cub in Namibia belongs to the (sub)species of Angolan Giraffe (Giraffa giraffa angolensis), according to a press release by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF). It was recently discovered on the grounds of Mount Etjo Safari Lodge in north-central Namibia. In contrast, at Brights Zoo in the northeastern US state of Tennessee, a Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa reticulata) without spots was born at the end of July (see report on 

According to GCF, there have only been three known cases of continuous brown giraffes without spots. The first was reported in 1972 from a zoo in Japan. The young animal on Mount Etjo is therefore the only spotless giraffe in the wild known so far. 

Experts see the cause for the deviation in a genetic mutation. However, a genetic analysis would be necessary to confirm this and to find out more details. 

The GCF used the announcement of the rare observation to remind people of the giraffe's endangerment. In total, there are only 117,000 of these gentle giants left in Africa. This is only about a quarter of the elephant population. The Angolan Giraffe, mainly native to Namibia and Botswana, is not considered endangered, with numbers of 20,200 (2019 estimate). The Reticulated Giraffe in East Africa, on the other hand, was classified as critically endangered in 2019 due to its drastic decline to about 15,950 animals. 

First known case in the wild: Spotless Angola giraffe (Giraffa giraffa angolensis [italics]) on Mount Etjo.
Photo: Eckart Demasius & GCF

Sven-Eric Stender 

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