Rare giraffe born WITHOUT spots at Tennessee zoo named Kipekee – meaning ‘unique’ by public as 40,000 vote in Facebook poll
- Brights Zoo offered the public a choice of four Swahili names for their new arrival born in July
- Kipekee is thought to be the only pattern-less giraffe in the world
- The zoo admitted the name was the easiest of the four choices to pronounce
The world’s only spotless giraffe is now unique by name, as well as nature, after 40,000 people had their say in an online poll.
Kipekee, the Swahili word for ‘unique,’ was picked by the public for the new star at Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tennessee.
Keepers were staggered by the baby reticulated giraffe when it was born on July 31 with none of its species’ characteristic spots or patches.
The owners asked the public to choose from Kipekee or three other Swahili names: Friyali, meaning extraordinary; Shakiri, meaning she is most beautiful; or Jamella, meaning one of great beauty.
‘For a lot of guests we talked to, Kipekee was the easiest name for a child to say,’ zoo director David Bright said as he revealed the poll result on NBC’s Today program.
This unnamed baby giraffe was born on July 31 at the Brights Zoo in Tennessee with no spots, making it the only known living brown spotless giraffe
Director David Bright with his new arrival and her mother at the zoo in Tennessee
The zoo says their now 6ft baby is ‘thriving’ and have started showing her off to visitors while she remains under the care of her mother.
While spotless giraffe babies have happened, they usually have white markings rather than the entirely brown coat seen on the new arrival.
A giraffe with a similar coat was born in Tokyo in 1972, but Bright was prepared to stick his neck out and declare Kipekee the only one of its type in the world.
‘There are no other living giraffes of this color,’ he told the program.
‘She’s still very laid back, curious about everything, and checking everything out every day.’
The zoo, located about 80 miles east of Knoxville, now has an international star in its midst.
The poll revealed a narrow win for Kipekee, the ‘easiest to pronounce’ of the four names
The zoo, located about 80 miles east of Knoxville, now has an international star in its midst
Experts have been unable to explain, however, why the baby giraffe is such a color
Video shows the new calf playing and being nurtured by her mother
Spots and patterns on a giraffe’s coat help camouflage them in the wild but also usually sit atop a concentrated area of blood vessels that allow the animal to shed heat and control body temperature.
The worldwide population of reticulated giraffes has fallen to just 38,000, and the zoo hopes Kipekee’s arrival will help focus attention on the species’ plight.
‘Wild populations are silently slipping into extinction, with 40 percent of the wild giraffe population lost in just the last three decades,’ said Bright.
‘The international coverage of our pattern-less baby giraffe has created a much-needed spotlight on giraffe conservation.’