WASHINGTON D.C., DC — A giraffe born without spots in a Tennessee zoo now has a name as unique as she is.
The giraffe, born at the Brights Zoo in Limestone Tennessee, will be named Kipekee.
The name was officially revealed Tuesday on the TODAY Show.
Zoo officials said nearly 40,000 votes were cast by people vying to pick a name for her.
"For a lot of guests we talked to, that was the easiest name for a child to say," David Bright, the director of Brights Zoo, told the TODAY Show.
Voters had four names to choose from, all of which come from the Swahili language: the winning Kipekee; Firyali, which means unusual or extraordinary; Shakiri which means “she is most beautiful” and Jamella, “one of great beauty.”
Kipekee got the most votes, with over 16,000. The second place name, Shakiri, got more than 10,000.
Kipekee, a female reticulated giraffe was born July 31 at the family-owned Brights Zoo in Limestone, a rural community in northeastern Tennessee.
The name was chosen after weeks of online voting for the baby animal's name. Kipekee means unique in Swahili, a fitting choice for such a rare giraffe.
David Bright, one of the zoo's owners, said the plain brown animal is a rarity: Research found another giraffe that was born without a pattern in Tokyo in 1972 and two others before that. The spots serve as camouflage for giraffes in the wild.
The baby giraffe is healthy and on display at the 103-acre zoo along with her mother, he said.
The zoo took the unusual step of posting about the giraffe on its Facebook page in an effort to help conservation efforts, Bright said.
“We generally do not post really any babies in the zoo but with this being such a unique situation, we knew that it would bring a lot of attention to giraffes, which would help us point people in the right direction of 'hey, here's how you can help giraffes in the wild,'” he said.
The number of animals in the wild have declined in recent decades, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. There were about 155,000 giraffes in Africa in the 1980s compared to about 117,000 today.
“We believe that giraffe numbers have dropped by about 30% in the last 30-35 years, however, we also see that conservation efforts are making a difference,” foundation Director Stephanie Fennessy said in a statement.