Some see a Pocket Monster, others see an animal ready to go Super Saiyan.

Part of what makes the artwork of the Pokémon franchise so appealing is how the character designs take as many cues from actual zoology as they do from fantasy aesthetics. The result is a lovable collection of Pokémon species with fun and inventive appearances that almost feel like they could exist in reality, but in fact can only be found within the unique world in which the games and anime are set.

Or at least we thought they could only be found there. After seeing this tweet from Japanese Twitter user @r2d2c3poacco, though, we’re not sure. Maybe Pokémon are real.

With the tufts of fur forming the shape of a white-hot fire and a steely gaze, that creature must be at least a mid-level evolved Fire-type of some sort, right? Or maybe it’s a leaner, meaner Luxio, or, as one commenter theorized, a Manectric with a different color than normal specimens.

Online reactions to the mysterious yet majestic creature shown in the photo have included “Looks kind of like a Pokémon,” and “Definitely a Pokémon,” but others see different anime connections. “It’s about to go Super Saiyan,” postulated one Dragon Ball fan, while another saw a connection to the canine form of sun goddess Amaterasu in Capcom’s Okami video game.

Still others saw an animal that’s not just cute and tough-looking, but fashionable as well. “It looks like it’s wearing a coat,” said one commenter, while another saw a four-legged mammal wearing a hood or cape. Those actually turned out to be somewhat accurate assessments, because the animal shown in the photos @r2d2c3poacco tweeted is indeed wearing a coat…a winter coat of extra fur.

That cute critter is an arctic fox (a distant relative of Japan’s tanuki/raccoon dogs), and in the left photo in @r2d2c3poacco’s tweet it’s in the process of shedding its winter coat as warmer weather comes. During the winter, most specimens (which can be found in Alaska, Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Iceland) have a pure-white coat in order to camouflage themselves when moving about the snow, but come summer their fur is brown.

▼ Is…is it eating a Magikarp?

So sadly, no, this isn’t proof that Pokémon are real. On the plus side, though, the arctic fox, like the “Pikachu Sea Slug,” is another example of how cool and cute real-world animals can be.

Source: Twitter/@r2d2c3poacco via Jin
Featured image: Twitter/@r2d2c3poacco
Insert images: Wikipedia/Pearli, Wikipedia/Fæ