Giraffes are known for their long necks and spots, but there’s one giraffe that looks a bit different from the rest. Born at the Brights Zoo in Tennessee on July 31, the yet-to-be-named calf is a spotless giraffe—and it's thought to be the only one in the world.
Without its signature spots, the newborn giraffe is all brown. And while some may think that this may be due to it being so young, the zoo has said that giraffes are very rarely born without their patterned looks, as it serves as a form of camouflage in the wild. Of course, this little giraffe—a female who is already 6 ft tall—doesn't have to worry about predators, and is happily adapting to life under the loving care of her mom, as well as the zoo staff.
According to the Cleveland Zoological Society, a giraffe's patterns is similar to our fingerprints, as they are unique to every individual animal. On top of that, their spots also regulate their body temperatures since they act like “thermal windows.” “There is actually a complex network of blood vessels underneath each spot that helps dissipate or reduce body heat in hot climates,” they explain.
Now, the baby giraffe's carers are hoping that her singular appearance will boost the conversation regarding the dangers these animals face. “The international coverage of our patternless baby giraffe has created a much-needed spotlight on giraffe conservation,” Tony Bright, the founder of Brights Zoo, told WCYB. “Wild populations are silently slipping into extinction, with 40% of the wild giraffe population lost in just the last three decades.”
To get the public even more engaged with this curious creature, the Brights Zoo is launching a contest to name the newborn giraffe. The four options offered by the zoo are Kipekee, which means unique; Firyali, meaning unusual or extraordinary; Shakiri, which stands for “She is most beautiful,” or Jamella, meaning one of great beauty. The vote is currently live on the zoo’s Facebook page.