Two giraffes were killed by lightning at Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee, Florida during a “severe, fast moving storm.” According to the park spokesperson, Haley Passeser, the giraffes were found dead by staff members.
The sad announcement was posted on the park’s Facebook page earlier Tuesday afternoon. The tragedy occurred on May 3, 2019.
“We are deeply saddened to share the passing of two of our giraffe due to a lightning strike. Lily and Jioni were in the pasture in their habitat when a severe thunderstorm quickly developed 6 weeks ago. Recent pathology results confirm that the giraffe did pass as a result of the lightning and that the manner of their passing was instantaneous. The giraffe do have access to numerous shelters in the multi-acre habitat, if they choose to use them. The keepers and our whole team were understandably devastated by this sudden and tragic loss; out of respect for their mourning and the pending pathology results, we waited to share this information. We continue to mourn our two incredibly lovely and charismatic giraffe; they will both be sorely missed.”
The staff and animal safety will continue to review safety and crisis protocols. The news was not released immediately in order to confirm the cause of death of the animals and to give the animals’ caretakers time to grieve the tragedy. A necrospy revealed both giraffes died instantly.
There are now 18 giraffes at the park that roam the 25 acres at will. There are shelters in the preserve area, but forcing a giraffe to move when they don’t want to move would be next to impossible. The life span of a giraffe in captivity is generally 20 to 25 years – in the wild – slightly less. Jioni was a one-year-old male, and Lily was a 10-year-old female.
Lion Country Safari is a drive through park located on 600 acres in Palm Beach County. Founded in 1967, it claims to be the first “cageless zoo” in the United States and has been rated as one of the best zoos in the nation.
Rest in peace Lily and Jioni.
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