Omaha zoo names giraffe after an 8-year-old girl who died days after the animal’s birth

A baby giraffe at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium has been named in memory of a young girl who died this spring after battling brain cancer.

Zookeepers chose the name Zoe, which was by far the most popular suggested name for the zoo’s giraffe, born April 16. People flocked to social media in support of 8-year-old Zoe Raber, who died April 24, about a week after Zoe the giraffe was born.

Zoe Raber was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer in March 2018. After treatment, cancer returned in November. Relatives said she took a stuffed baby giraffe to every surgery and every MRI and that her room was filled with stuffed animal giraffes.

One of her teachers at McPhee Elementary School in Lincoln, Josh Stephens, started the campaign to name the giraffe in her memory.

The zoo announced the name selection in a Facebook Live videoon Friday. Beginning Friday and through the end of June, the zoo’s gift shop is selling animal buttons and giving 100% of the proceeds to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.