Syfy Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
SYFY WIRE animals

Meet Baby Kipekee, Perhaps the Only Spotless Reticulated Giraffe Alive Today

She might be the only one of her kind in the world!

By Cassidy Ward
(from left) Baby Alex, Marty, and Gloria watch on as Baby Melman struts.

The animated family classic Madagascar (streaming now on Peacock) follows the adventures of a group of zoo animals on a journey back to their true home, or so they think. The group includes a narcissistic lion, a zebra who’s always ready to party, a hippopotamus who is equal parts compassion and muscle, and a hypochondriac giraffe who is terrified of the world. They quickly learn that they’re ill-equipped to handle life in the wild, but their individual quirks might be precisely what makes them special.

If you’re looking for a giraffe to add to your own trans-Atlantic prison break crew, you won’t find one any rarer than a calf recently born at the Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tennessee. The giraffe, born July 31, is completely spotless, with a mild sandy-colored coat from tip to tail.

Rare Spotless Giraffe Gets a Name

Brights Zoo is a private, family owned facility located in East Tennessee. They began offering public tours in 2007 with a focus on schools and education. After the rare spotless giraffe was born, the Bright family considered hundreds of names and eventually narrowed their choices down to four: Firyali, Shakiri, Kipekee, and Jamella.

RELATED: These Proto-giraffes Had Built-in Helmets for Headbutting

The zoo put those four possibilities up for a vote and let the public decide, garnering nearly 40,000 votes overall. With the votes tallied, the spotless newborn giraffe is now named Kipekee, a Swahili word meaning unique. The name is appropriate because Kipekee very likely is unique in the world right now. As far as we know, she is the only spotless reticulated giraffe alive today, though she isn’t the only one we’ve ever seen.

The last known example was Toshiko, a similarly spotless giraffe calf born in Tokyo in 1972. Toshiko’s older sibling was also spotless, which suggests there is a genetic component involved in this unusual mutation.

Reticulated giraffes are one of nine subspecies of giraffe native to the continent of Africa. In particular, they live on the Somali Peninsula, popularly called the Horn of Africa, on the eastern edge of the continent. There are an estimated 16,000 individuals in the wild and reticulated giraffes are one of the most popular subspecies found in zoos all over the world.

In the wild, a giraffe’s spots help with camouflage, but they also play a role in temperature control by radiating heat away from the body. Because of the rarity of the mutation, it’s unclear how (if at all) Kipekee will be impacted by the lack of spots. So far, zoo officials say she is active and curious, a seemingly healthy baby giraffe.

For more quirky animals, catch Madagascar streaming now on Peacock!

Read more about: