By Kimia


Mpenzi, a Swahili word meaning, “love”, is the name chosen by the metropolitan community for the Detroit Zoo’s male reticulated giraffe calf born earlier this year.


After receiving thousands of name suggestions, the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) invited the public to vote among five finalists while supporting giraffe conservation. The online vote-by-donation opportunity determined the winning moniker. Mpenzi garnered the greatest amount of money, besting Ajabu (“wonderful”), Amani (“peace”), Kijana (“young man”) and Zawadi (“gift”).


“The community is understandably very excited about our newest little giraffe,” said Scott Carter, DZS chief life sciences officer. “We wanted to take that positive energy and do something that would help giraffes in the wild. Raising money for giraffe conservation by letting our community choose the calf’s name is a great way to deliver on our mission.”


The community’s gift of $1,141 will be donated to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), whose goal is to ensure a sustainable future, where all giraffe populations are protected and secure in the wild. To underscore its commitment to important conservation and animal welfare efforts that protect the world’s wildlife and habitats, the DZS is adding a conservation grant to the GCF of $5,000.


Giraffe numbers have plummeted in the wild over the last 15 years, down by more than 40 percent from approximately 140,000 to less than 80,000 individuals.


Mpenzi and parents Kivuli and Jabari can be seen outdoors on warmer days and inside the giraffe building as temperatures drop.


The Detroit Zoo is open 362 days a year, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.