St. Andrew's Nursery School of Audubon recently celebrated their adoption of two giraffes at the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown. Parents, students and alumni attended the event on July 12 to help welcome the giraffes, named Louis and Tamu, to the zoo for the summer.

This is the second year St. Andrew's has adopted giraffes at Elmwood Zoo. Originally from Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, the giraffes arrived at the zoo in May and will stay for the summer. The school's mascot is a giraffe named Amos, which is why St. Andrew's was excited to participate in the ZooParent Group Adopt Program. Amos symbolizes the school's emphasis on learning through play and the physical, mental, social and emotional development of each child at St. Andrew's.

Melissa Elison, the publicity chair for St. Andrew's and also a parent, said the day was a great event for families and students to catch up with each other over the summer break, as well as visit the new giraffes at the zoo.

'We decided to participate in the program because we were hoping to help the zoo but also show the children what it means to help their community and become involved, and also have some fun at the same time,' remarked Elison. 'It was good for the kids because they got to see how we can help the community and do something in a tangible way that they are then able to see. For preschool kids it can be hard to visualize, so the fact that we got to go and see the giraffes - it helps them to see what it is that we are helping to do when we adopt them.'

Elison noted there was a good turnout for the event, made up of parents and students, and also siblings of students who had gone to St. Andrew's, who wanted to come meet the giraffes and see old friends.

'There was a good group of us there. It was nice; it got to bring some of the students together with some kids that have graduated that wanted to come back and share the day with us,' she said. 'We were able to see people we hadn't seen because school is out for the summer, so we don't see each other as often.'

Elson said if the giraffes continue to come to Elmwood Zoo each summer, the school hopes to continue in the adoption program, which lasts for one year.

This year the giraffes are both males. Louis is five years old and Tamu is just one year old.

'This is the second round of the giraffes. They were there last summer, but they were different giraffes,' Elison noted. 'They didn't always have the giraffes; last summer it was a new thing. That's why it was the first year we did this. We thought it was a one year thing, but the giraffes came back.'

For a number of years, St. Andrew's has also been involved with helping the giraffes at the Philadelphia Zoo, in honor of their mascot. They created the 'Adopt a Spot' program at the preschool to raise money from the students to be donated to the giraffes.

'We're adopting a spot on a giraffe. We collect money and the students go home and do chores and then come in and tell what it is they have done that week, and they give change,' said Elison. 'We collect the money and send it to the Philadelphia Zoo to help with the care and feeding of the giraffes.'

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