One group of middle-aged women in Hokkaido have now done something that no one ever imagined they would: They raised over 54 million yen and bought a giraffe for their local zoo.
The story began after an ordinary trip to Kushiro Zoo, when the grandson of housewife Yoko Sakamoto noticed the absence of a certain long-necked mammal. The boy’s dismay at not being able to see his favorite animal spurred her into action and she decided to collect money and give the zoo a giraffe.
With 50 million yen as the target, she set about organizing fundraising activities but soon realized that someone with experience and drive would be necessary to see the mission through.
That’s when Reiko Tsurukawa stepped in. Known locally for her charm as a popular boutique employee, she had recently been diagnosed with metastatic cancer. She took the challenge by the furry horns, seeing it as a source of positive energy during hours of gruelling radiation therapy.
Under Tsurukawa’s guidance, the group enlisted the help of community leaders and received enormous support from the local community. Eventually, the group was able to purchase Sky, a young giraffe from nearby Obihiro Zoo.
Not resting on her laurels, Tsurukawa is now learning sign language so she can help hearing impaired visitors learn more about the animals when they visit the zoo.
Sources: Valley News, Kushiro North Rotary Club
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