The Virginia Zoo is asking Hampton Roads residents to put on their thinking caps and submit baby names beginning with the letter “I” for its new Masai giraffe.
The two-week old calf, a baby girl born on June 4, weighed 149 pounds at birth, and was born with a birth defect called carpal laxity where her front limbs appear to bow slightly backwards as she walks.
Since then, zoo officials say she has started to grow out of this condition and has shown normal behaviors, like walking and running around the Africa-Okavango Delta exhibit.
The zoo will be accepting name submissions until June 23, then zoo keepers will vote and the winner will be contacted via email. The winner will win four zoo tickets and a zoo swag bag with goodies.
The calf’s name will be announced on June 28.
Participants can submit their entries online.
Both the calf and her mother, Imara, can currently be seen by Zoo visitors at the indoor exhibit in Africa. Soon, they will be able to explore the outdoor exhibit with Billy, the calf’s father, and Noelly, the other adult giraffe.
Like Imara, Hampton Roads residents can also become parents, or “zooparents” as the Virginia Zoo calls them.
The zoo is currently running a Zoodoption special for both Imara and her baby girl, where zoo fans can donate $50 and contribute to their care and feeding for one year, including the purchase of treats, toys and supplies.
With this Zoodoption special, participants will receive a framed picture, a fact sheet, an adoption certificate, two giraffe plushes and an invitation to the 2018 ZooParent event in June.
Proceeds also help to provide specialized training for Virginia zoo keepers.
This past weekend, the 2017 zooparents got to meet the zoo keepers, grab some refreshments and goodies and experience an up-close animal encounter.
Adoptions start at $25 and every animal at the Virginia Zoo is available for adoption.
The zoo also has adoption packages for classrooms and individuals who want to support the zoo’s gardens.
To become a Zooparent, visit http://virginiazoo.org/get-involved/zoodoptions/.