Brazil: what not to name your giraffe


Newborn giraffe gets a name at the Sao Paulo zoo

A giraffe baby at the Sao Paulo zoo finally has a name, Jamal. The name was chosen by fans and visitors who voted over the last month via internet and at the park. The newspaper O Globo says Jamal means elegant in “African,” which is a little bit like saying “globo” means world in South American.

Those familiar with modern standard Arabic may notice that Jamal is similar jemil, which can mean handsome. Baby name websites indicate that this is the real linguistic source for the name. The other contenders for the giraffe name were Rafiki, Baakir, Chikosi, and Zaki, all also said by O Globo to be “in African.” Some are Arabic, others from one of the many other languages spoken across the continent. And one, Melman, was straight-up Hollywood-ese. It’s the name of the giraffe in the animated movie Madagascar.