Gillie Guinea Pig, a truly cute stuffed animal available to visitors at Southern California’s Zoomar’s Petting Zoo, won IAAPA’s Brass Ring for Best New Souvenir Plush at the recent Orlando show. The life-sized Gillie beat out the two other finalists…Cookie the Dog (Hong Kong Disneyland) and Slyder the Sea Lion (Gold Coast Australia Sea World)…to nail the coveted prize.
The proud pig was the creation of Zoomar’s owner Carolyn Franks (shown with Gillie above). There are around 100 guinea pigs and other farm animals living, and entertaining kids, at her two-acre zoo, which is located in the historic area of Southern California’s San Juan Capistrano. Right now, Gillie is enjoying his 15 minutes of fame normally given to the district’s flock of swallows which often (but not always) return to the historic mission town every year on St. Joseph’s Day.
Gillie, as you might expect, is actually more than a stuffed piglet; there’s a story that comes with him. “I wanted to create a lovable character who could teach children about overcoming fear, while building respect for their animal friends here at the zoo,” said Carolyn. Her book, “The Tale of Gillie Guinea Pig,” is a beautifully illustrated story where Gillie’s courage helps him scurry out of a pet shop and into the job of his dreams. (Gillie also has an album of songs on iTunes produced by local musicians, a fan club and a website.)
Game room and crane operators should know that Gillie retails for $18 when purchased at the petting zoo, or can be ordered on-line at Zoomars.com. Freight charges are added. Operators might also visit Amazon.com for pricing there.