Cecil County celebrity Jimmie the Giraffe is getting a new home. The grand opening of the Edward C. Plumstead Giraffe Conservation Center is happening this weekend at Plumpton Park Zoo.
The 21-year-old giraffe has traded in his barn for a new state-of-the-art facility.
“His inside enclosure is actually about six times the size of his previous house,” said Alexander Courtney, the Plumpton Park Zoo manager.
Nicholas and Cheryl Lacovara knew they would have to upgrade Jimmie’s enclosure back in 2010 on the day they agreed to buy the zoo.
“After we agreed to takeover and reopen the zoo, one of the maintenance people came in and said the giraffe is out. Jimmie had walked through his fence that was in really bad condition and he was just standing there eating trees and leaves,” said Nicholas Lacovara, the facilities director at Plumpton Park Zoo.
But it would take several years to fundraise for the project. They got the ball rolling with one of their first donations from a young girl named Emilie.
“She sold a bunch of her toys and she was allowed to take that money and spend it on whatever she wanted. New toys would be the response for most kids, but not Emilie. She wanted to help Jimmie, so she brought the entire $100 to the zoo to make a donation for Jimmie's new house,” said Lacovara.
Emilie along with many others in the community helped make the new enclosure possible. Lacovara estimates that 80 percent of the funding for the nearly $550,000 facility came from community members. The zoo also collected money through feedings. Jimmie ate $50,000 worth of leaves and lettuce.
The new high tech enclosure features multiple feeding stations as well as radiant flooring.
‘[The flooring] allows us to be able to heat his building equally throughout the entire floor to ceiling. It keeps us having 75 degrees through the entire building. It might vary two degrees, unlike his old building that would vary anywhere from 65 degrees to 85 degrees,” Courtney said.
And the space allows for several other giraffes, which is something the zoo is now in search of.
“Jimmie is 21 years old, he stands about 16.5 feet tall, he weighs about 4,200 pounds,” Courtney said.
And he's ready to hit the dating scene. Lacovara said the zoo is actively looking for a girlfriend for Jimmie. They’re goal is to fundraise $75,000 for Jimmie’s girlfriend, transport, and veterinarian bills. If you’d like to contribute, click here.
The Edward C. Plumstead Giraffe Conservation Center will open to zoo members this weekend. There will be an announcement on the zoo's Facebook page once the center is open to the public.