From giraffe without spots to two-headed snakes: Unusual animal births that fascinated the world this year

The female reticulated giraffe was born on July 31 at the family-owned Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tennessee


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A plain brown female reticulated giraffe that was born at the family-owned Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tenn. — AP
A plain brown female reticulated giraffe that was born at the family-owned Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tenn. — AP

Published: Thu 24 Aug 2023, 8:15 PM

Last updated: Thu 24 Aug 2023, 8:44 PM

Our planet is home to some fascinating creatures that never cease to amaze us. Animals are amazing. You can love them or hate them, but you simply can’t ignore the beautiful beings walking the Earth. However, things get even more interesting when animals are born with some unusual features whether it is a snake with two heads or a giraffe with no spots on its body. Several such instances caught the attention of many this year and we have compiled a few for you.

Spotless giraffe

A giraffe without spots at a Tennessee zoo may be plain, but she’s definitely not ordinary.

The female reticulated giraffe was born on July 31 at the family-owned Brights Zoo in Limestone, a rural community in northeastern Tennessee, reported news agency Associated Press.

David Bright, one of the zoo’s owners, said the plain brown animal is a rarity: Research found another giraffe that was born without a pattern in Tokyo in 1972 and two others before that. The spots serve as camouflage for giraffes in the wild.

The yet-unnamed baby is healthy and on display at the 103-acre zoo along with her mother, he said.

The zoo took the unusual step of posting about the giraffe on its Facebook page in an effort to help conservation efforts, Bright said.

“We generally do not post really any babies in the zoo but with this being such a unique situation, we knew that it would bring a lot of attention to giraffes, which would help us point people in the right direction of ‘hey, here’s how you can help giraffes in the wild’,” he said.

The number of animals in the wild has declined in recent decades, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. There were about 155,000 giraffes in Africa in the 1980s compared to about 117,000 today.

“We believe that giraffe numbers have dropped by about 30 per cent in the last 30-35 years, however, we also see that conservation efforts are making a difference,” foundation director Stephanie Fennessy said in a statement.

Along with asking the public to help pick a name for the animal, the zoo also asked people to consider donating to conservation efforts.

“We want to ensure that future generations get the opportunity to see these wonderful animals in the future,” the post reads.

Proposed names for the baby include Kipekee, which means unique; Firali, which means unusual; Shakiri, which means most beautiful; or Jamella, which means great beauty. Votes will be tallied on September 4 and the new name announced.

Buffalo calf with bear-like claws


A photo of a buffalo calf with some unusual features was also shared on the Internet this year. Instead of hooves, the animal had claws that looked like that of a bear. The calf was spotted at the Kruger National Park in South Africa by Pam Bruce-Brand, who later shared the photo with

The outlet did not state when the photo was taken.

“While driving in the central Kruger National Park on the S90 towards the Shitsalaleni waterhole. We came across a massive herd of buffalo grazing and moving toward the waterhole. Some buffaloes were already wallowing and drinking water,” Pam Bruce-Brand told the outlet.


She added that when she got closer to the herd, she noticed a calf that “looked a little strange”.

“As it got closer, the deformity could be seen more clearly. Thick legs and bear-like claws instead of hooves. It was a rare and intriguing sight that left me curious,” said Bruce-Brand.

The report said that the buffalo calf could be suffering from a disease called hyperkeratosis. According to Healthline, the condition refers to the thickening of the skin’s outer layer which is made up of a protein called keratin.

Two-headed snake

In another instance of unusual animal birth, a pet store, Exeter Exotics, in the UK on July 17 welcomed a male western hognose snake with two heads, reported USA Today.

The store, in a Facebook post on August 9, stated that the rare snake was doing well and shared more details on the reptile.

The pet store, in a Facebook post on August 9, shared a video of the tiny tow-headed snake stating that it was doing well. The store also gave details on the eating preferences and characteristics of the snake.

“The right-hand side head prefers sardine scented pinky heads & will take it from you himself if held up to him,” Exeter Exotics wrote.

“The left-hand head is interested in food but we think the throat may be a little narrower for that head as it seemed to struggle when offered food before. Hopefully, this improves with time as the snake grows... possibly just having to have smaller food items,” it added.

The store further said: “It is strange to see that the left-hand head will make the chewing motion of eating whilst the right-hand head is eating”.

According to Northampton Reptile Centre, western hognose are short snakes that live in the western plains of America and are known for their hardened scale at the front of the face. They are “rear fanged venomous” but their venom is mild and is unlikely to harm you unless you are allergic to it.

(With inputs from AP)

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