Henry Vilas Zoo turns old shirts into fundraising project for giraffes

MADISON, Wis. — The Henry Vilas Zoo is turning unsold T-shirts into a fundraising project to celebrate National Giraffe Day later this year.

The zoo is giving the shirts away as sewing kits for volunteers to turn them into stuffed giraffes. Last year, the zoo tried a similar effort, but instead of giraffes, it involved bears.

“Each kit comes with some shirts — these are older shirts that we couldn’t use, so as you can see, some of them have years on them but they have other designs that we can use — so people use the shirts, they cut them up, and then they have some interfacing and some stuffing on them and then they also have the pattern,” zoo volunteer coordinator Lauren Salzmann said.

The stuffed giraffes will be sold to raise money for the Giraffe Conservation Foundation for World Giraffe Day in June.

There were an overwhelming amount of applicants for the 2022 project, and the zoo quickly hit its sewing volunteer capacity for this year.