Late last month, Toys ‘R Us shuttered its stores nationwide, taking countless Legos and Barbies with it. But there’s one item poised for rescue as the toy chain settles its bankruptcy case: Geoffrey the Giraffe.
The San Antonio Zoo is hoping to acquire Geoffrey, the long-running Toys ‘R Us mascot, to educate the public about real-life giraffes and rally for their conservation. “The idea would be to show kids that giraffes could go extinct, because Geoffrey almost did,” explains Jennifer Pue, marketing manager at the San Antonio Zoo.
The zoo released a video announcing its official bid to save Geoffrey on June 28. It features a staffer named Brittany and the zoo’s own giraffes, who casually munch on grass in the background. “For over 50 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe has brought smiles to kids faces,” Brittany says. “Here at the San Antonio Zoo, we are passionate about securing a future for wildlife, and we’d like to secure a future for Geoffrey.”
The video simultaneously touts a GoFundMe campaign, but the money from this crowdfunding will not, the zoo clarified, go towards purchasing the intellectual rights to Geoffrey. Instead, it’ll help the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, an NGO that protects wild giraffes across Africa. Currently, the zoo has raised a little over $2,000 of its $100,000 goal.
“We’re a little behind where we’d like to be,” says Chuck Cureau, director of PR and promotions for the San Antonio Zoo. “But people have been very supportive. We’ve actually had guests show us [childhood] photos with Geoffrey, the costumed character.”
Cureau says they have not received a response from Toys ‘R Us about gifting Geoffrey to the zoo. “We’re being cautiously optimistic, but we’re also being realistic,” he says. “We understand that people have lost jobs, so we’re trying not to bother them.” Toys ‘R Us also did not respond to Green Matters’ request for comment, simply auto replying with a list of frequently asked questions.
But the company has been generous with Geoffrey in the past. As Toys ‘R Us closed up its headquarters in Wayne, New Jersey, its liquidation adviser Joseph Malfitano personally purchased and donated the office’s 16ft Geoffrey statue to the Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital. The fiberglass figure was unveiled in the hospital lobby on July 11, to cupcakes and jungle music.
If the San Antonio Zoo is successful in its efforts to acquire Geoffrey, it would share the mascot with other zoos, Pue says, allowing him to be a global face for conservation. The zoo hopes that Geoffrey, in addition to delighting new and old generations of kids, could spark discussions about habitat loss and poaching. The Kordofan giraffe, a subspecies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has been especially devastated by poachers targeting them for their tails.
While the zoo waits to hear back from Toys ‘R Us, it’s concentrating all its energy on raising money for the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. You can track the progress, and donate if you’re so inclined, on their GoFundMe page.
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