Reporting Jessica Kartalija
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– He’s one big baby, but some in Thurmont hope he’s here to stay. Rocket the giraffe is on loan from another zoo at the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve. As Jessica Kartalija reports from Frederick County, keeping him there is a tall order.
“He’s blondish brown, he has spots on himelf,” said a little zoo-goer.
“This is Rocket, he is 2 years old, he is 12 feet tall at the moment,” said Richard Hahn, executive director of the preserve.
And he’s the most popular guy at the Cacoctin Wildlife Preserve.
“He is a star and he’s a major attraction,” Hahn explained.
“I like their long necks, I think they are fascinating and I like the facts about them,” said another of Rocket’s young visitors.
“I like the giraffe because its tall,” said a visitor to Cacoctin preserve.
“We had him come in as a visiting exhibit,” Hahn said. “We contracted for four months and he was here for four hours and we were in love with him.”
Now, Hahn wants to make rocket a permanent resident. And that means coming up with $60,000 for a special heating system to keep rocket toasty warm through the winter.
That’s a tall order.
And when you think about the daily maintenance of Rocket, he eats quite a bit. Fifty pounds of food, two bales of hay and 100 pounds of leaves like this bamboo. That’s not cheap.
“You’ve all seen them in story books but when you see one in person, its not like anything else,” says a parent who brought her children to the zoo. “It makes it a little more magical for the kids.”
The zoo is turning to the public to help hosting fundraisers and selling pins and magnets to raise money for Rocket’s new home.
“We’ve had offers for materials, we’ve had offers for labor,” Hahn said. “But we still need to raise additional money so we can get it together and do it right.”
The Cactocin Wildlife Preserve has until the end of October to make sure all of the necessary upgrades are made to Rocket’s facility. Visit their website for more information.