Meet Tajiri! April the Giraffe's Baby Gets a 'Hopeful' Name

Still a little unsteady on his feet, April's newborn calf takes his first steps. (Image credit: Animal Adventure Park)

They'll call him "Taj."

The baby giraffe born on April 15 at Animal Adventure Park (AAP) in Harpursville, New York, finally has a name: Tajiri (pronounced tah-JEER'-ee), which is Swahili for "hope" or "confidence," the giraffe keepers said.

The fate of the giraffe's moniker was in the hands of the public, as the park held a naming contest: For about 10 days after the birth, the public could submit naming ideas. The 10 most popular submissions could then be voted on over a period of five days, when the select group got wittled down to two.

Turns out, one of those two names was not a name at all but was called "Allysa's Choice," a reference to the park's lead zookeeper Allysa Swilley. And since Allysa's Choice won the popular vote, she had the honor of picking the name. [Giraffe Birth Captivates Over 1 Million Viewers |Video]

"Alyssa's Choice wasn't just my choice. I had to have my co-parent involved and that's always been Cory," Swilley said on a Facebook Live video, referring to the park's other giraffe keeper, Corey Dwyer. (The other nine names: Apollo, Geoffrey, Gio, Harpur, Noah, Ollie, Patch, Patches, Unity.) 

Tajiri was what "spoke to us," Swilley said, adding that both "hope" and "confidence" were linked to the baby giraffe.

"Hope is not only something that Tajiri has brought to you guys as a community globally, but hope is a hope for giraffes," she said on the Facebook video. "We have been able to give giraffes a voice." As for confidence: "We are confident that we will move into a future where we have giraffes," Swilley said.

In addition, "Hopefully when [Taj] is 18 and over 2,000 pounds, we're going to have a nice confident bull with, I'm sure, lots of ladies," she said.

Little Tajiri was an internet sensation before he dropped the 6 feet from his mother onto the enclosure floor, as a captivated audience was keeping track of Taj's mom, April, since her live cam went up on Feb. 11. The live giraffe cam went down on April 21, though the park said a yard cam will be installed when the AAP officially opens for the season on May 13. So viewers can be reunited with baby and mama giraffe.

The birth, shown in full detail as the baby's hooves emerged first, a couple of hours before delivery, was watched by more than 1.2 million viewers on YouTube and Facebook, the AAP reported. At birth, the sweet boy stood at 5 feet 9 inches (nearly 2 meters) tall and weighed an already-whopping 129 pounds (58.5 kilograms).

Tajiri went outside for the first time, with April, at the end of April. Next up, at about 3 months, the calf will begin to investigate, and nibble on, hay (though he'll continue nursing), Jordan Patch, AAP's owner, told Live Science last month.

"Thank you for coming out to support not only our giraffe but giraffes around the world," Swilley said.

Original article on Live Science.

Jeanna Bryner
Live Science Editor-in-Chief

Jeanna served as editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.