N.Y. zoo names giraffe calf Tajiri for 'hope' but means 'rich'

NEW YORK (Reuters) - What’s in a name?

FILE PHOTO: April helps her newly born unamed baby giraffe stand at the Animal Adventure Park, in Harpursville, New York, U.S. April 15, 2017. Animal Adventure Park/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

Tajiri was picked as the winner of a naming contest for a baby giraffe whose long anticipated birth, hooves first, was watched online last month by millions tuning into his mother April’s pen at Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York.

Zoo owner Jordan Patch, announcing the name on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday, said the Swahili word was chosen for its forward-looking meaning when translated into English.

“Tajiri is a word in Swahili that means hope,” Patch said, as he fed carrots to April while Tajiri looked on.

But it seems no one in Harpursville had a dictionary of East Africa’s Kiswahili language handy, as the translation of Tajiri is “rich” or “wealthy.”

Hope is usually translated as “tarajio” or “matumaini.”

April raised a “significant amount” of money from viewers worldwide who were mesmerized by her 16-month pregnancy, Patch said. Those donations will be used for conservation efforts as well as giraffe upkeep at the zoo, he said.

The naming contest was narrowed to 10 finalists and the winner, “Tajiri,” was nominated by Allysa Swilley, the zoo’s giraffe keeper, Patch said.

“They picked that name because they hope that we can continue forward this message of conservation for sustainability and preservation of giraffes in the wild and also our efforts in captivity,” Patch said.

The zoo did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The calf, nicknamed “Taj,” was 6-feet tall (1.8-meters) and weighed about 150 pounds (70 kg) when he was born on April 15.

Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Additional reporting by George Obulutsa in Kenya; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Steve Orlofsky