Heart warming story arising from baby giraffe naming competition.

At the beginning of March, Joburg Zoo announced the name given to the Giraffe calf born in January. Thato was the winning name out of over 50 entries and was chosen by 5 year old Nabeel Osman. Nabeel and his family are regular visitors to the Joburg Zoo living in Saxonwold, walking distance away from our Upper Park Drive entrance.

Nabeel Osman (middle) receiving certificate from Joburg Zoo CEO Dr. Stephen Van Der Spuy (Right)and MMC Matshidiso Mfikoe (Left).

It came to light only after winning the competition that the name Thato held special significance to Nabeel. 'Thato' was the nickname Nabeel's Grandfather Aaref Osman called him. Sadly Aaref passed away suddenly from a heart attack in September 2010. Grandmother Sheila Osman, was hesitant to accept the prize, complimentary annual passes for Nabeel and herself explaining that the loss was so fresh in their hearts and the family was so touched by the honour.

The Osman family visited the zoo on Friday 25th March for a special presentation by the Zoo's CEO, Dr. Stephen Van Der Spuy and MMC for Environment and Corporate Services, Matshidiso Mfikoe. Nabeel and the MMC were given the opportunity to feed the Giraffe's. Hoping to get a little closer to Thato, Nabeel and his family waited patiently for the 3 month old calf to approach. Being shy Thato only came closer when his mom Gia was tempted by carrots and other vegetables.

Nabeel Osman and MMC Mfikoe feeding the Giraffes

Sheila Osman says the experience has changed Nabeel's life. 'He has been so sad since his Grand father passed away, this experience has helped him heal and start acting like a boy again'. Sheila has decided to adopt Thato, as part of the zoo's Adopt an Animal programme aimed at sponsoring the upkeep of animals at the zoo.

Joburg Zoo is expecting another addition to the Giraffe herd later this year and is currently caring for many other animal babies born in recent months. To learn more about the Joburg Zoo and how you can help visit our website www.jhbzoo.org.za.

Prepared and issued by Candice Segal, Acting Brand and Communications manager on behalf of the Joburg Zoo. END.

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