LIMESTONE, Tenn. — A giraffe without spots at a Tennessee zoo may be plain, but she's definitely not ordinary.
The female reticulated giraffe was born July 31 at the family-owned Brights Zoo in Limestone, a rural community in northeastern Tennessee.
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 yet-unnamed baby 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.
Along with asking the public to help pick a name for the animal, the zoo is also asking people to consider donating to conservation efforts.
“We want to ensure that future generations get the opportunity to see these wonderful animals in the future,” the post reads.
Proposed names for the baby include Kipekee, which means unique; Firali, which means unusual; Shakiri, which means most beautiful; or Jamella, which means great beauty. Votes will be tallied on Sept. 4 and the new name announced.