Lion Country Safari giraffe lightning strike leads to the death of two of wild animals at the preserve in a billion to one freak accident. Giraffes in captivity shortened lives.
Tragedy struck when 16-foot-tall Lily and her 12-foot-tall male friend, Jioni, were hit at Lion Country Safari near West Palm Beach on May 3, officials said in a Facebook post.
‘We are deeply saddened to share the passing of two of our giraffes due to a lightning strike,’ authorities said in the post. ‘Recent pathology results confirm that the giraffes did pass as a result of the lightning and that the manner of their passing was instantaneous.’
The animals had structures to take cover in during the storm — but there’s no way to force them to use it, Lion Country Safari spokeswoman Haley Passeser told NBC News.
‘It’s like a billion-to-one chance this happened to us and our poor giraffes, but we are looking at anything we can to improve upon’ safeguards for the animals, Passeser told NBC. It wasn’t clear if the animals were hit by one bolt or two, she said.
‘We continue to mourn our two incredibly lovely and charismatic giraffe; they will both be sorely missed,’ the park’s statement concludes.
Lion Country Safari giraffe lightning: The dilemma of shortened lives of giraffes in captivity.
Lily was 10 years old and Jioni was 1 year old. The facility, which bills itself as an amusement park and a drive-thru safari, had 20 giraffes before the incident.
Lily was between 14 feet to 16 feet tall, while Jioni was between 10 feet and 12 feet, according to Passeser. The giraffes were not related.
‘Recent pathology results confirm that the giraffes did pass as a result of the lightning and that the manner of their passing was instantaneous,’ the park said Tuesday in a statement.
Of note, no park staff actually witnessed the fatal lighting strike. It’s not clear if the animals were killed by two separate bolts or perhaps one that hit the ground near Lily and Jioni, who were found close to each other.
Giraffes tend to live between 20 to 25 years, Passeser said, though animal rights activists claim the massive mammals have much shorter lifespans in captivity.