June 20, 2016 2:15PM
Megan Swafford, assistant director of Pittsburg State’s Alumni and Constituent Relations office, wasn’t certain what to expect when she put out the word about hosting an alumni event at the Fort Worth Zoo.
“We’d never held an event in Fort Worth,” she said. “And summers in Texas can be pretty hot. But we knew our alumni were excited to see the zoo’s new gorilla and celebrate the role they played in naming him after our mascot. We were hoping for at least 75 alumni to take part in the event.”
Instead, more than 200 alumni answered the call. So many that Swafford actually had to turn people away.
“The response was amazing,” said Swafford. “We had alumni travelling from Topeka, Little Rock and Pittsburg to join us at the zoo. Everyone wanted to see baby Gus and meet their fellow Gorillas.”
The event consisted of a special viewing with baby Gus, his mother, Gracie, and father, Elmo, along with authentic Texas barbeque and a special university presentation in Texas Town, a fun recreation of life in the Lone Star State at the turn of the century.
“The Fort Worth Zoo was fantastic to work with,” said Swafford. “They welcomed our Gorillas with open arms and made us feel at home. I believe they’ll see a lot of red and gold in their park this summer.”
Friday’s event was the first to be held in Texas since 2012, and the first-ever to be held in the city of Fort Worth. A fact not lost on those in attendance.
“The Dallas-Fort Worth area is our second-largest base of Gorilla alumni outside of the four-state region,” said Swafford. “It’s pretty clear that Gorilla Nation is alive and well in Texas. We’re already thinking of ways we can return to the Lone Star state.”
Pittsburg State’s Alumni and Constituent Relations office welcomed nearly 6,000 alumni and friends at Gorilla Gatherings during 2016 academic year.