Press Release: 07/10/2015

Late Santa Rosa Junior College Professor’s Creation, Fresno the Giraffe, Inspires Oakland Zoo

Ellen Maremont Silver, Director of Communications & Marketing Nicky Mora, Senior Manager, Marketing/PR
(707) 527-4679 (510) 632-9525 ext. 130

Santa Rosa, CA —Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) instructor Nicholas (Nick) Anast, who died in a kayaking accident in March, is receiving recognition for the 17-foot re-articulated giraffe skeleton, housed at the SRJC Petaluma Herold Mahoney Library. The giraffe, named Fresno, was a popular resident at Safari West. The skeleton, which was re-articulated by biology students under Anast’s guidance in 2010, recently caught the attention of Oakland Zoo docent Paul Ferreira, who photographed Fresno on July 8 as part of an educational project.

Ferreira will use the photograph as a guide to help construct PVC pipes into a skeleton, so that children can have a hands-on activity of building a re-articulated giraffe like Fresno. The future skeleton will be a teaching tool that may be used in Oakland Zoo’s Education Department’s programming, World Giraffe Day, school tours, and internships at Oakland Zoo. It will also be displayed for the general public. In developing the project, Ferreira consulted with Amy Phelps, Lead Keeper of Giraffes, and Darren Minier, Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo. Ferreira will start building the giraffe project this summer and plans to unveil it in the fall of 2015.

“We are so pleased that Nick Anast’s dedication to education will live on in a new way. Nick was an exceptional and beloved teacher whose influence has been widespread, touching thousands of SRJC students. We are grateful that his legacy of dedicated teaching will be extended to children in the Bay area,” said SRJC Director of Communications and Marketing Ellen Maremont Silver. Fresno lived most of his life at Safari West in Sonoma County.

Ferreira was in the early design stage for his project when he realized, “I need to see an actual skeleton to be able to decide out how best to show the complexities of a giraffe skeleton while working within the limitations posed by PVC.” His Internet search found very few re-articulated giraffe skeletons displayed anywhere in the US, and all but this are very distant from the Bay Area. When he contacted the Mahoney Library, Dr. Jane Saldaña-Talley, Vice President, SRJC Petaluma, quickly provided access to Ferreira. “We are very proud to have Fresno as a prominent feature in our Mahoney Library and I imagine Nick would have been delighted by this project,” said Saldaña-Talley.

“Docents play an essential role at Oakland Zoo through their interactions with guests,” said Lisa O’Dwyer, Assistant Director of Education and Volunteer Services Director at Oakland Zoo. “These interactions are one of the primary ways the Zoo achieves its mission: to inspire respect for, and stewardship of the natural world while providing a quality visitor experience. Docents inspire curiosity and discovery. This giraffe project is a prime example of how our Docents strive to connect with children in an engaging and interactive way.”

Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC), founded in 1918, is the 12th oldest of California’s 112 publicly funded two-year colleges. SRJC is one of the largest single college districts in the United States, Sonoma County Junior College District. With 15 major high school districts within its borders, the District encompasses more than 1,600 square miles from the southern border of Mendocino County to the northern tip of Marin County. The District is bounded to the west by the Pacific Ocean and to the east by Napa and Lake Counties.

The District operates two campuses in Sonoma County: campus in the heart of Santa Rosa that is more than 100 acres, and a 40-acre campus in Petaluma. SRJC also operates a regional Public Safety Training Center in Windsor, a 365-acre self-supporting Shone Farm near Forestville, and the Southwest Center in Santa Rosa. More than 27,000 students attend the College, and more than 3,000 staff help them pursue their education. More information is available at


The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid's activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks.