Zack names Ziva the Zebra

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By Kristin Beck

A Carrollton native earned the privilege of naming the first female Hartmann’s mountain zebra foal born at the Louisville Zoo in 13 years. Zack Vannarsdall named her Ziva, after a character on one of his favorite television shows, “NCIS.”

Nearly 5,000 names were submitted in the zoo’s Baby Zebra naming contest, presented by Floyd Memorial Birthing Center. Vannarsdall said he saw a story about the contest on the news and went on the zoo’s website to fill out a form. He said the only ‘Z’ names he could think of were Ziva and Zoey, but he thought Ziva sounded a little nicer. He said if the zebra had been a boy, he would have named it Zack after himself. 

The online form asked for the name suggestion, instruction on how to pronounce it and an information box, where he wrote that the name came from NCIS.

The 72-pound foal was born at 2:45 a.m., Jan. 18, 2013, to Morena and Gibbs. Gibbs was named for the leading character of NCIS.

Vannarsdall said there was a short biography about the zebra at the top of the website that he skimmed, but he did not realize the foal’s father was named Gibbs until the zoo called to tell him he was one of three finalists, chosen by the zookeepers. 

The other two finalists were Abby, named for another NCIS character, and Katniss, named for the main character of the movie Hunger Games, played by Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence, who is from Louisville.

Zoo visitors made the final decision. Guests were invited to vote until June 23 for their favorite name by making a monetary donation in the voting kiosk on the zoo’s front plaza, according to a news release. All proceeds went to the care and feeding of the foal and the other animals in the zoo, the release said.

Ziva received the most total donations and was declared the winner. As the grand prize winner, Vannarsdall will receive zoo gifts and a tote bag from Floyd Memorial Birthing Center, four Adventure Tickets and a special behind-the-scenes tour and bonding session with Ziva for up to five people. 

“I’m excited to meet her because zebras are one of my favorite animals,” Vannarsdall said. 

Their trip to the zoo has not yet been determined. He and his family visit the zoo about once a year, and his favorite part is seeing the animals and being outside walking around for a few hours.