Only One in the World: Rare Spotless Giraffe Born In U.S. Zoo

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On July 31, 2023, a rare spotless giraffe was born at Brights Zoo in Washington County, Tennessee. The last reported sighting of a spotless giraffe was at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, Japan, in 1972. Its name was Toshiko.

Image credit: Brights Zoo

Amazing, right?

Experts believe the calf is the only solid-colored reticulated giraffe living on the planet. 

Reticulated giraffes are a subspecies of giraffes native to the Eastern African savannah. The term “reticulated” refers to the unique network of polygonal brown spots with veins of creamy off-white of the species.

Reticulated giraffes

These spots serve as camouflage for the giraffes where they live and feed. Moreover, each spot is designed with a complex system of blood vessels that release heat through the center of each patch. This helps the animals regulate their body temperature.

Female giraffes can grow up to 14 feet tall and weigh 1,500 pounds. In contrast, males can grow up to 18 feet tall and weigh as much as 3,000 pounds. This makes them the tallest land animals in the world.

Take note: the newborn giraffe at Tenessee already stands 6 feet tall. Imagine how tall it is!

Image credit: Brights Zoo

According to David Bright, the zoo director at the Brights Zoo, the mother of the calf named Shenna has already given birth to three other calves in the past. However, all are spotted.

Moreover, experts note the animal’s rare coloration may be due to a mutation in one or more of its genes. The newly born reticulated giraffe also shows no signs of any underlying health issues or concerns.

Unfortunately, wild giraffe populations are now dwindling into extinction. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation reports that 40% of the wild giraffe population has been lost over the last three decades. This is due to various factors, including habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict. 

Only 16,000 reticulated giraffes remain in the wild, a 50% decline from 36,000 three-and-a-half decades ago. Reticulated giraffes have also been added to The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List as an endangered species in 2018.

According to the zoo’s founder, the recent birth of a rare spotless giraffe highlights the importance of giraffe conservation and the challenges that the rest of the species must overcome in their natural habitat. 

Protecting giraffes is crucial because they play a vital role in the ecosystem. They help maintain the balance of the African savannah by consuming leaves from tall trees. This also promotes new growth and provides food for other animals. 

Giraffes are also beloved all over the world and hold cultural significance. Protecting them ensures that future generations can continue to appreciate these majestic creatures.

Currently, the zoo that welcomed the rare spotless giraffe has asked the public for help in naming the animal.  The zoo has narrowed down a list of potential names to:

  • Kipekee, meaning unique in Swahili
  • Firyali, meaning unusual or extraordinary
  • Shakiri, meaning “she is most beautiful”
  • Jamella, meaning “one of great beauty”

The votes will be tallied and announced on September 4, 2023.

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