An as-of-yet unamed baby giraffe stands in her pen at the Niabi Zoo Sunday September 18, 2011 in Coal Valley, Ill. Photo: Rashah McChesney/Quad-City Times

Brian Wellner
Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Niabi Zoo has announced a naming contest for its female baby giraffe, which was born on Sept. 9.

Three finalist names have been chosen for zoo visitors to vote on and choose their favorite. The naming contest will run for the entire month of October, with the winning name announced Nov. 1.

Visitors who vote will not just be choosing a name for the new giraffe but also will be supporting the zoo, located in Coal Valley, Ill, and operated by Rock Island County.

“We’re asking visitors to cast their vote with their pocket change,” assistant zoo director Marc Heinzman said. “Whatever name has the highest dollar amount will win.”

All proceeds raised from the naming contest will go toward Niabi’s efforts to build a new elephant enclosure, Heinzman said.

The finalist names are Miya, Nyah and Victoria.

Heinzeman said Miya is a combination of the names of the baby giraffe’s parents — Mimi and Kenya. Miya also is a Japanese word that means “increasingly beautiful.”

Nyah is a Swahili word that means “purpose.”

Victoria is named after Victoria Falls, the tallest waterfall in the world, located along the Zambezi River between the African countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The ballot boxes are located in the giraffe building, in front of the indoor viewing area.

Niabi Zoo is open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The giraffes are on display until approximately 4 p.m. each day.