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Meet J.J.! Zoo Knoxville names its baby giraffe with the public's help

Frances the giraffe gave birth to the little guy on Christmas Eve, the second calf born to her and father Jumbe.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Zoo Knoxville's baby giraffe has a new name! Meet J.J., short for Jumbe Junior!

The zoo asked the public to help come up with a list of names, then they were able to cast a vote for a dollar donation.

There were five options, but most voters chose to honor J.J.'s father, Jumbe, with the name.

Zoo CEO Lisa New said in a video posted to the Zoo's Facebook page that the choice is pretty appropriate because Jumbe and J.J. share a pretty special bond. They like to hang out together and really seem to enjoy each other's company.

The voting raised over $1,500 that will support the care of the zoo’s giraffe herd and the zoo’s mission to save giraffe from extinction as part of the collaborative efforts of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Giraffe Species Survival Plan.

Frances the giraffe gave birth to the little guy on Christmas Eve, the second calf born to her and father Jumbe.

He's hanging out with his herd every day at Zoo Knoxville, which also includes a baby zebra!

Credit: Zoo Knoxville

Original story 3/5/21

It's time to name the baby!!

Zoo Knoxville wants the public to help pick out a name for its two-month-old baby giraffe and help donate to the giraffes' care and conservation with a small donation.

Frances the giraffe gave birth to the little guy on Christmas Eve, the second calf born to her and father Jumbe.

 A few weeks ago, the zoo asked the public to submit name suggestions. Thousands of submissions were received and now they've narrowed the list down to five.

  • Jumbe Junior (J.J.) - in honor of his father  
  • Zawadi - which means “gift” in the Swahili language  
  • Major - a tribute to the legendary Johnny Majors, head football coach at the University of Tennessee from 1977 to 1992  
  • Sky - because that’s where giraffes dwell! 
  • Jacob - for the Knox County's Read City program mascot #MillionHourExpedition

You can vote on your favorite through March 14 here. The zoo requests a dollar donation for each vote. The funds raised will support the care of the zoo’s giraffe herd and our mission to save giraffe from extinction as part of the Giraffe Species Survival Plan, a collaborative effort of zoos accredited by The Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Giraffes are in trouble in the wild. Right now, there are fewer than 100,000 giraffes left in Africa and they are critically endangered. According to the zoo, they are threatened by habitat loss, competition with growing human populations and being hunted for bushmeat.