Plumpton Park Zoo moves giraffe into new habitat
— Jimmie the giraffe had to be coaxed, cajoled and bribed to get him into his new home at Plumpton Park Zoo.
The 21-year-old reticulated giraffe was moved Sunday morning from the barn he has called home almost since he arrived at the zoo in 1996 to the new Giraffe Education Center.
Until the giraffe is acclimated to his new surroundings, he won’t be in public view at the zoo.
“We don’t want him to have any other distractions while he’s getting used to his new home,” said Nick Lacovara who, with his wife, Cheryl, took over the zoo on Telegraph Road near Rising Sun in 2010.
A team of staff, volunteers and veterinarians offered Jimmie fresh green boughs of
firstname.lastname@example.org bamboo and buckets of giraffe chow to get him to move along a secured path to the center. To keep him from getting back to the old barn, a blue tarp blocked his path. It took less than two hours to make the actual move.
While he gets acclimated, the Lacovaras and zoo staff keep an eye on him via closed circuit cameras.
Jimmie is eating and drinking well and checking out the new digs, which is six times larger than his old enclosure. It also has windows, which he did not have until now.
“He’s already discovered he likes looking out the window,” Cheryl said. “And he’s inspecting every detail of the enclosure.”
The $500,000 center was paid for through grants and donations, including a giraffe feeding station. Nick Lacovara said Jimmie raised $49,000 for his own cause through the feeding station in which zoo visitors paid to offer the animal leafy branches.
Other money came from various fundraisers held by the zoo and the community including car washes, yard sales, a $100,000 grant from the Maryland General Assembly, local impact grants from Cecil County’s share of proceeds from Hollywood Casino and $20,000 from a Chase Community Giving campaign.
The Lacovaras hope this won’t be Jimmie’s bachelor pad for long. Fundraising has begun to get a female giraffe.
With the temperature hovering in the mid to upper 40s, Jimmie’s move began before noon Sunday.
“It went unusually smooth,” Cheryl said Thursday, but added getting Jimmie to go into the new building proved to be the bigger challenge.
Cheryl said it needed to be a certain temperature for the animal to be outdoors. By this time of year, Jimmie typically spends more time inside than out.
That’s where the new center will come in handy. Zoo visitors will have a raised platform to see Jimmie regardless of the weather. The center also would be open for classroom opportunities and public and private gatherings. Another part of the building adds a permanent food prep station for zookeepers to store fresh and frozen food. The commercial setting offers large tables and walk-in refrigerators and freezers.
But most importantly, Nick said the center was designed explicitly for giraffes with radiant heat in the floor.
“It’s also easier to maintain and easier to keep it clean,” he added.
A ribbon cutting is being planned when Jimmie is ready, Cheryl said.
Jimmie takes his first steps into the new, larger enclosure built for him at Plumpton Park Zoo near Rising Sun. The enclosure is six times larger with radiant heat in the barn and windows.
Danielle Coriano, Plumpton Park Zoo’s zookeeper, offers Jimmie some food to encourage the giraffe to move toward his new enclosure. The move took place Sunday.