A zoo in Tennessee got a special surprise when a giraffe was born without any spots.
The all-brown calf is so rare, experts believe it's the only spotless reticulated giraffe on the planet.
Giraffes use their spots primarily for camouflage, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. But underneath their spots are extra large sweat glands and an intricate system of blood vessels which help them lose heat more efficiently. This helps giraffes keep cool in the hot climates they're accustomed to.
The baby giraffe, a female, was born at Brights Zoo last month. Because of her uniqueness, the zoo's founder Tony Bright said they decided to check her bloodwork.
"Her numbers compared identically to the giraffe that was born two weeks prior to that, so we felt good. Each day she gets stronger," he told local station WJHL.
The calf is currently 6 feet tall and doing well. She remains under the care of her mother and the staff at Brights Zoo, where she is available for viewing.
The zoo is asking for the public's help naming the little one.
Brights Zoo announced four Swahili names to choose from and vote on via Facebook: Kipekee, meaning "unique"; Firyali, meaning "unusual" or "extraordinary"; Shakiri, meaning "she is most beautiful"; and Jamella, meaning "one of great beauty."
The zoo's director, David Bright, said the Bright family went through thousands of names before settling on those four.
"Those four are the four the family are all really attached to," David Bright told WJHL. "So if she's named one of those four, we're very happy."
The zoo said voting on a name will last through Labor Day. On that day, Brights Zoo will tally the votes and announce her name.
Tony Bright said he's glad the special girl's story is helping to spread awareness.
"The international coverage of our patternless baby giraffe has created a much-needed spotlight on giraffe conservation," he said in a press release. "Wild populations are silently slipping into extinction, with 40% of the wild giraffe population lost in just the last 3 decades."
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