The night before the Imagine Beach 2030 online event, two students made their way across campus with a roll of tape and a stack of flyers with “Giraffe 4 Mascot” in bold, black lettering. By morning, over 50 pink and blue flyers were posted throughout campus calling for the giraffe as Long Beach State’s new mascot.
Following the retirement of Prospector Pete last September, the mascot’s absence created a vacuum, leaving students to wonder who or what will take his place.
Enter second year film major Dominic Hure and third year political science major Jonah Zeko, the brains behind the Long Beach Long Necks, a student-run campaign advocating for a giraffe mascot.
The Long Beach Long Neck was initially the brainchild of Hure, who approached Zeko with zeal, just days before Imagine Beach 2030. The two-day online event garnered community input for the future of the university last November.
“[Hure] basically said, ‘I want the giraffes to be our new mascot. This is my dream and you have to help me,’” Zeko recalls.
According to Zeko, the Long Beach Long Necks idea was not out of character for Hure, who has created kooky and unconventional content such as a two-minute short film starring a man with a bird head.
“I think what you probably need to know about Dom is that this isn’t out of the ordinary for him,” Zeko said. “It’s not [the only] odd thing that he’s done in his life.”
What started as an idea shared between two friends turned into a campus-wide phenomenon when Hure’s post promoting the giraffe became one of the most trending on the forum, receiving 109 positive votes and 101 replies.
“The amount of people that commented and liked [the Long Beach Long Necks post] and really engaged in the conversation was really cool,” Hure said. “So from there, we vamped everything up.”
Since Imagine Beach 2030, the duo has taken further steps in campaigning for the giraffe such as creating stickers, starting social media accounts, designing a website and starting a petition, which has accumulated over 200 signatures.
The campaign has gained a sizable following, drawing the attention of President Jane Close Conoley, who tweeted at the campaign’s official Twitter account, expressing her appreciation for the giraffe.
I love your analysis. Diversity. Uniqueness. Big heart. Peaceful. Reaching high. Black and Gold. All good.
— Jane Close Conoley (@PresConoley) November 15, 2018
“The first time we realized that we weren’t just a joke was when Jane Conoley messaged us back in support of the giraffe and she retweets a lot of stuff,” Zeko said. “We realized that it’s not that hard to talk to [administration] and that we can bridge the gap between the students and the people that make the decisions.”
Recently, Hure and Zeko attended Week of Welcome in full regalia, sporting a giraffe suit to boost engagement and interaction with the campus community. The giraffe’s latest appearance was at a men’s basketball game against UC Irvine on Feb. 2. Hure and Zeko strolled around Walter Pyramid earning high-fives from kids, alumni, students and staff members.
“It’s really cool, because you see people get excited about something, and our school doesn’t do a whole lot of things that give people a sense of pride and belonging,” Hure said. “Even if it doesn’t become the mascot, it’s accomplishing the task of giving something for people to talk about and rally around.”