Ask any kindergartener, and they’ll tell you that giraffes have two distinguishing features: A long neck and spots.
But on July 31, a giraffe at a Tennessee zoo gave birth to a female calf with solid brown fur — and not a spot in sight.
“Giraffe experts believe she is the only solid-colored reticulated giraffe living anywhere on the planet,” says Tony Bright, the founder of the private, family-owned Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tennessee.
Mom and six-foot-tall Baby are both doing well, and Bright is grateful for the opportunity to bring awareness of this majestic animal and the need to support its population.
“The international coverage of our patternless baby giraffe has created a much-needed spotlight on giraffe conservation,” Bright told People. “Wild populations are slightly slipping into extinction, with 40% of the wild giraffe population lost in just the last three decades.”
The giraffes at the zoo are what’s known as reticulated giraffes. In the wild, these leggy creatures live in open woodlands and savannas, where they eat as much as 75 pounds of vegetation per day, according to the zoo. They can reach heights of up to 18 feet tall and can weigh between 1,200 and 4,000 pounds.
The baby giraffe’s name was up to the public to decide. The zoo announced a naming contest on its Facebook page, offering four options that all come from Swahili (the language spoken in the region the giraffes come from) and allowing the public to vote through Sept. 4.
The results are in, zoo director David Bright reported to Good Morning America. Fittingly, this one-of-a-kind cutie is now named Kipekee, meaning “unique” in Swahili.
The zoo’s post also encourages people to support giraffes in the wild and links to the Facebook page of Save Giraffes Now, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting this gorgeous animal from extinction.