A rare spotless giraffe born at Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tennessee, this summer captured hearts. Now, the newborn finally has a name. After asking the public to vote on a name for the baby, the zoo on Tuesday declared the winner. The giraffe will be called Kipekee, which means “unique” in Swahili.
The zoo announced the choice on Facebook, where, in a post last month, it asked people to choose between four symbolic names: Kipekee, which means “unique;” Firyali, which means “unusual” or “extraordinary;” Shakiri, which means “she is most beautiful” and Jamella, which means “one of great beauty.”
The zoo received over 40,000 votes, and Kipekee won by a margin of 6,000 votes, the zoo said in a news release.
The newly-named Kipekee was born on July 31 to a reticulated giraffe mother. The species is native to Africa and has brown and orange spots — with the exception of the rare spotless giraffe. The zoo says experts believe she is the only solid-colored reticulated giraffe on the planet.
Brights Zoo director David Bright said in an email to CBS News that the last recorded spotless giraffe was in 1972 in Tokyo. That giraffe,named Toshiko, was born at Ueno Zoo,according to archival photos.
The Giraffe Conservation Foundation lists reticulated giraffes as endangered.
“The international coverage of our patternless baby giraffe has created a much-needed spotlight on giraffe conservation,” Tony Bright, founder of Brights Zoo, said. “Wild populations are silently slipping into extinction, with 40% of the wild giraffe population lost in just the last 3 decades.”