About 200 years ago, that is how European and American people referred to the giraffe. It was sort of camel-y. It had big spots like a leopard. All right, then.
George the IV of England had a pet giraffe, courtesy of a diplomatic gift from the Pasha of Egypt. It died a couple of years later though, and was stuffed by John Gould, who also served as Curator and Preserver to the Museum of the Zoological Society of London. Brief story on that here.
Another giraffe was gifted at the same time from the Pasha to Charles X, and lasted very nicely for 18 years. Her name was Zarafa, and there's a book about her. Note that to have a pet giraffe, it helps to be royal. Probably the tall ceilings in the palaces.
Eventually we started calling them giraffes after the Arabic word zirafah, "tallest of them all". The scientific name for this gentle, blue-tongued, neck-enhanced creature is Giraffa cameleopardis.