Voters Name Maryland Zoo’s Newborn Giraffe Calf ‘Willow’

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Photo by Jeffrey F. Bill, Courtesy Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

The newest addition to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore now shares a name with a common type of tree and Will Smith’s celebrity daughter.

The zoo announced today to applause that voters had picked Willow as the name for its newborn, six-foot-tall reticulated giraffe calf, who was introduced to the world in pictures just last week. She was born a to 4-year-old Juma and 11-year-old Caesar on Monday, Feb. 6.

Sinclair Miller, marketing and digital media manager for the zoo, said in a Facebook live address that more than 20,000 people voted online during the zoo’s three-day naming contest. The other name options were Imara, Safara, Ruby, Opal and Dottie.

More than 30 percent of voters picked Willow, named after a type of tree that is “slender and graceful, like the newborn calf,” according to a Monday release from the zoo.

Maryland Zoo staff are very excited about Willow, the first giraffe born there in 20 years.

“This experience has been incredible for myself and my team,” said zookeeper Amy Hertzberg. “We’ve all been working really hard for the past three years and it’s just really great to see that we finally have a calf here that we can share with everyone.”

Hertzberg noted Willow has been well-cared for by her mother in the last several weeks. “Juma has just blossomed as a mother,” she said, adding that she has been “very protective” and is a “doting mother.”

Today’s announcement also offered the first live look at Willow for the public. Starting tomorrow, the zoo will be allowing groups in to see Willow for a few minutes at a time.

She has months of growing to do and needs time to settle in with her herd, the zoo previously said in a release. As we saw today, she’s already pretty tall and stands sturdily on her own four legs.

This story has been updated with new information about when guests can see Willow in person.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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