Some people might think crossing paths with a black cat is a bad omen — but for wildlife photographer George Turner, his encounter with one such feline was actually a sign of really, really good fortune.
Not only is the animal Turner met incredibly gorgeous, he just might be the only one like him on Earth.
It was a serval, a cat native to Africa. Normally, they look this:
The serval Turner photographed in the wild of Tanzania, however, looked much different.
"Can't describe how mind-blowing this was ... and still is," Turner wrote online.
Instead of being spotted, this serval was all black:
This serval is believed to have melanism — a rare condition that causes unusually dark pigmentation in animals' skin and fur. As a result, the serval's already striking form took on a whole new level of beauty.
This was something even an experienced wildlife photographer like Turner had never seen before.
"For context, even seeing a 'normal' serval is tough," he wrote. "They’re shy, secretive cats that tend to live in tall grasses — the perfect combination for staying unnoticed. Every time I’ve been privileged enough to see them, my heart skips a beat."
Fortunately, the serval Turner spotted appears to be healthy, despite being different. And though Turner was only able to snap one photo before he disappeared into the brush, with that, he won't soon be forgotten.
"The hope, for now, is that he continues to flourish in the grasslands and build on his territory," Turner wrote, optimistic the cat's chances at finding a mate: "What serval could resist those charming good looks?!"