“Can zebras change their stripes?” is the age old question akin to “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”


Each zebra has a unique pattern much like each human has an individual set of fingerprints. A zebra’s fur boils down to its genetics: how long each hair grows, what pattern, what ratio of white to black.

So, can a zebra change its stripes? Biologically, the answer is no. If you shave everything off, the hair grows back the same way.


But, what if the answer is yes?

Remember the black and blue (read: white and gold) dress that broke the internet a couple of years ago? Obviously, the garment is manufactured with certain colors. It is not made with magical threads that shift color with light or computer model. Nevertheless, people were up in arms that what they saw was correct! “It is blue and black!” “No, you’re SO wrong, it’s white and gold. Get your eyes checked, idiot!”

The dress is, in fact, black and blue, but slight differences in ambient lighting and retinal recognition change everyone’s perception. Perception, it all came down to perception; which on its own is not a quantifiable phenomenon. Perception is an individual, subjective opinion that, by definition, varies from person to person.


So, back to the question, can a zebra change it’s stripes?

Yes, it can because it all depends on how we see it. Like the dress, people swear the zebra is white with black stripes while others maintain it’s black with white ones. Occasionally the fully colorblind people will say zebras sport a greyscale pattern because they see the gradients more clearly without color.

And, just how everyone quickly expresses their opinion as testament, I also ask “can a human change it’s stripes?”.


Hi, my name is Monica and I have RA.