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A rare spotless giraffe gets a name to match

Kipekee, pictured at the Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tenn., is believed to be the only one of her kind on the planet.
Brights Zoo Facebook
Kipekee, pictured at the Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tenn., is believed to be the only one of her kind on the planet.

The rare baby giraffe that was born without any spots and has taken the world by storm now has a name: Kipekee.

The moniker, which means "unique" in Swahili, was revealed Tuesday morning on the Todayshow.

David Bright, director of the Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tenn., said nearly 40,000 people from around the world voted to name the 5-week-old calf, believed to be the only one of its kind on the planet.

The public had four options to choose from, including Firyali, meaning unusual or extraordinary; Shakiri, which translates to she is most beautiful; and Jamella, signifying one of great beauty.

Bright said, Kipekee won by approximately 6,000 votes.

"A lot of guests said it was the easiest name for a child to say," he told viewers.

Bright had previously told WJHL that the zoo looked at thousands of names and their meanings before settling on the four choices.

"Those four are the four the family are all really attached to," Bright said.

So far, he said, the spotless superstar is "very laid back, still curious about everything, checking everything out every day."

According to the zoo, giraffe experts believe Kipekee is the only solid-color reticulated giraffe living anywhere in the world. Reticulated giraffes are a subspecies of giraffes native to the horn of Africa.

Standing 14 to 15 feet tall, the creatures are the tallest land mammals in the world. When mothers give birth, the calves are already 6 feet tall, and apart from especially rare occasions, they're born covered from hoof to horn in brown spots.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.
Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.