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Squee! Zoo names adorable new baby giraffe after Yao Ming — he's a 6-foot tall newborn after all

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Proud papa Mtembei (born 05/05/07) nuzzles his son Yao the newest addition to the herd in the barn paddock at the McGovern Giraffe Exhibit in The African Forest. The paddock served as a nursery for Neema and Yao and allowed the rest of the herd to get introduced to the new arrival before Yao made his public debut. Courtesy of Houston Zoo

We like to imagine that it was a celebration of The Lion King proportions at the Houston Zoo early Monday morning, when female Masai giraffe Neema gave birth to a healthy male calf. 

The zoo's giraffe keepers dubbed him Yao in honor of former Houston Rockets star Yao Ming, a vocal conservationist who visited the zoo while in Houston for NBA All-Star Weekend.

Given that the days-old giraffe already measures a solid six feet tall, the name seems fitting. 

Yao — the giraffe edition — was standing on his own at just an hour old, and has spent the week becoming acquainted with the rest of the zoo's herd. He will meet the public for the first time at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday in the African Forest giraffe exhibit. 

Got a great photo of a Houston happening or everyday occurrence? Or just a fun photo that shows why Houston is so unique? Send it to barbara@culturemap.com, along with details (who, what, where and why it's special). It might make our Pix of the Day.

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