ASHEBORO, N.C.-Lexy Labrador, a 17-year-old from Climax, has won the North Carolina Zoo's giraffe naming contest.

Labrador's winning entry-"Jitu" for the male giraffe and "Asha" for the female-was chosen by the zoo's giraffe keepers and other zoo staff from more than 5,000 entries.
As the contest winner, Labrador will be the first person to offer food to the giraffes from the new Acacia Station feeding platform, which opens to the public June 6. Additionally, she will receive a year's family membership from the N.C. Zoo Society and a gift basket with a variety of zoo merchandise, including T-shirts, games and stuffed animals.

Also, a plaque commemorating her name and the winning entry names will be permanently installed at the giraffe exhibit.

In keeping with the zoo's naming suggestions, Labrador's winning entry reflected creativity, originality and the zoo's mission of animal welfare and conservation. "Jitu" means "giant" in the African dialect of Simwali, and "Asha" means "life."

"I chose (Jitu) because giraffes are the giants among the lands," Labrador said, "and (Asha) because, in my opinion, all new animals are a gift of life."
Labrador is a student at Providence Grove High School in Climax.

The new giraffes, both about a year old, arrived at the zoo in March--the male from Dickerson Park Zoo in Missouri and the female from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee A. Freeman, Secretary; Beverly E. Perdue, Governor.