The patternless giraffe calf, born at Brights Zoo in July, was recently named Kipekee, which means "unique" in Swahili
"There is not another one out there," Brights Zoo's director, David Bright, tells PEOPLE of the giraffe calf born in July.
And animal lovers are eager to see this distinctive baby animal.
A record-breaking number of people visited Brights Zoo over Labor Day Weekend. The zoo is located on 103 acres in Limestone, just past the town of Jonesboro — famous for its storytelling festival. There were 3,000 visitors on Monday alone. Bright estimates there were about 10,000 visitors over the long weekend.
"Everybody wants to see this," said the zoo director, 51. "People from all over the world."
The Bright family originally owned an eight-acre quarter-horse farm. As a 25th wedding anniversary present, David's father, Tony Bright, gifted his wife, Connie, a pair of zebras.
In 1989, the couple started importing more exotic animals and buying more land to house them.
"Before you knew it, there were no horses here, and it was a full-blown zoo," Bright says of his parents' creation.
In 2007, the family started inviting schoolchildren to visit the animals. "We had so many animals here," he adds. "The right thing to do was to be open to the public." Brights Zoo officially opened a year later, with a focus on promoting conservation efforts, according to Bright.
"That's what's important," he says. "We want to make sure that future generations have the ability to see animals that, if it weren't for zoos and major conservation efforts, we would never get to see."
Brights Zoo became home to something almost no one had ever seen on July 31, when Kipekee the patternless giraffe calf was born. Within minutes of her birth, zookeepers saw the baby standing up on the cameras monitoring her mother's labor. They walked out to the barn and discovered the newborn didn't look like the other giraffes.
"We immediately noticed that this baby is totally different than anything we've ever seen," Bright says. "It was definitely a shock."
The zoo's staff called veterinarians at the University of Tennessee and other zoos, asking, "Who's seen this? How rare is this?" he says.
"Even the old-old timers that are in their 80s have never heard of this. So we knew it was pretty unique," Bright adds.
The last recorded spotless giraffe was born in 1972 in Tokyo.
"Keep an eye on her," Bright says of Kipekee. "This is the best way for a zoo to get out the word for conservation. We need everybody to get involved to help protect wild giraffes. She has the ability to be the spokesperson for that."
The eye-catching baby giraffe currently stands over 6 feet and 6 inches and still has plenty of growing to go. Her mother is 16 feet. Kipekee also has a half-brother, Obi, who is two weeks older than she is. The two are starting to play together, according to Bright.
Kipekee's unique all-brown coat hasn't gotten in the way of her bonding.
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"[The herd] accepted her with open arms as soon as she was born. Her first time outside, all the giraffes came over, and they licked all over her," Bright says.
Along with attracting visitors, Kipekee is also bringing in animal experts. Bright shares that scientists plan to visit the zoo soon to take thermal images of the baby giraffe to learn more about her coat.
"To find out what is behind that brown, is there a pattern?" he says. "I'm really excited about getting to do that."
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