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Grizzlies Insider: Memphis Zoo gets its own Ja — Ja Raffe
 
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The Memphis Zoo's newest edition, Ja Raffe, embraces his mother, Angela Kate, on his first day in the public eye Nov. 19, 2020. Ja was born at the Zoo last week and is named after Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)
 

The Memphis Zoo's newest edition, Ja Raffe, embraces his mother, Angela Kate, on his first day in the public eye Nov. 19, 2020. Ja was born at the Zoo last week and is named after Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Welcome back to your Grizzlies Insider, where you can find the latest NBA news and analysis from Daily Memphian staffers Drew Hill, Chris Herrington and Geoff Calkins. 

Memphis, meet Ja.

Ja Raffe. 

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The 9-day-old giraffe calf is the newest attraction at the Memphis Zoo, and hilariously named after Grizzlies point guard and NBA Rookie of the Year Ja Morant. 

“The Memphis Zoo is a huge fan of the Memphis Grizzlies and Ja Morant,” a zoo spokesperson said Thursday. “We wanted to show our support and congratulate Ja for his NBA Rookie of the Year win by naming our new calf after him.”

Morant, honored to have the animal named after him, said baby Ja Raffe was “born a legend,” and welcomed his new friend to the world.

Plans are already in the works to unite the two, according to Nick Harmeier, the Memphis Zoo’s chief marketing officer and the man behind the baby giraffe’s name. 

“Hopefully they can meet very soon,” he said. 

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Harmeier said he first thought of the name while talking to a Grizzlies sales representative more than a year ago. 

“We were chatting about it one day, about the Grizzlies and about Ja Morant because he had just got drafted,” Harmeier said. “We had just had a couple baby giraffes and I said, ‘Man, if we ever have a baby boy giraffe, we’re going to name him Ja Raffe. How cool would that be?’”

It was another year before the zoo had a baby boy giraffe, but when he was born, Harmeier knew he needed to jump on the opportunity immediately. 

“I said, ‘Now is our time! Please let me do it!’ ” Harmeier, a Grizzlies fan, begged the zookeepers. “They told me it was a great idea and it was perfect because he just won Rookie of the Year.

“It’s fun to see it all come to life.”

On Wednesday, the Grizzlies traded up to make two more draft selections: TCU’s Desmond Bane and Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman Sr. 

Hopefully next year, they can have zoo animals named after them, too. Names still pending, of course. 


More from your Insider: 


Grizzlies trade up twice, select Desmond Bane, Xavier Tillman

Memphis moved up to get an experienced shooter and an elite defender in the 2020 draft. 

Justise Winslow, Jackson likely won’t be ready for start of season

With earlier than expected start to season, Grizzlies face disappointing news on injury front.

Report: Grizzlies sign Gonzaga’s Killian Tillie, Butler’s Sean McDermott in two-way contracts

The undrafted forwards will spend time in the G League as well as with the Grizzlies.

New Grizzlies assistant Sonia Raman saving the best of Memphis for last

Raman has gotten the highlights of the city. Now it’s time to get her eye on the team.

Memphis Grizzlies to allow some fans at FedExForum this season

The arena will have restricted capacity, and the team is looking at possible COVID-19 testing for fans in certain seating.

 
 
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