A rare baby giraffe was recently born without spots at Tennessee’s Brights Zoo.
The female giraffe, which was born on July 31, is believed to be the only spotless giraffe in the world. Instead of the distinctive spotted pattern of normal giraffes, her body is a medium tan color – almost comparable to that of a horse’s.
Born at the Brights Zoo, a family-run, private facility in Limestone, Tennessee, the young baby is the first giraffe without spots on record since 1972 when a solid-colored calf was born in Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo.
Despite only being a few weeks old, she’s six feet tall and is capable of walking on her own. She’s also growing and thriving under her attentive mother’s care. She has joined a growing herd at the zoo, being the second baby giraffe born this summer.
According to the zoo owner, they hope the unusual baby will bring more awareness to the giraffe population as the numbers have been decreasing rapidly. Over the past three decades, wild populations have decreased by more than 40 percent, which puts the species at risk of extinction.
Normally, the giraffe’s molted appearance serves as a form of camouflage, which protects it from predators in the world.
Not only that but the skin under the spots also has special blood vessels that let them regulate their body temperature. That is, they’re able to send their blood through the branches of vessels into the middle of the patch to release heat.
Now, the zoo is looking for the public’s help in naming the baby giraffe. They’ve announced a contest on their Facebook page where people are able to vote for their favorite names (they have narrowed it down to four monikers).
The choices are Kipekee, which means ‘unique’, Shakiri, which means ‘the most beautiful’, Firyali, which means ‘extraordinary or unusual’, and Jamella, which means ‘one of great beauty’.
The winning name will be announced on their social media page on Labor Day.