- A 10-year-old female giraffe named Lily and a 1-year-old male giraffe named Jioni were found dead in their pasture by workers at the Lion Country Safari on May 3.
- It was determined that the two giraffes died from a lightning strike, after a fast-moving storm swept through the area, the zoo announced on Tuesday.
- A spokesperson for the zoo said that they open enclosures during storms to let animals seek shelter if they choose, but these giraffes decided to remain in the open.
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A Florida wildlife safari lost two giraffes last month when they were struck by lightning in a severe and fast-moving storm.
A spokesperson for the Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee said two workers found 10-year-old female Lily and 1-year-old male Jioni dead in their pasture after the storm that rolled through on May 3.
A necropsy confirmed that the two giraffes had died from lightning, Haley Passeser told The Sun Sentinel. The giraffes were not related, but they were both born and raised in the park. According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the animals can live about 25 years in the wild and longer in captivity.
“It’s just this tragic and really random act of nature,” Passeser said. “The only good thing is that it was instantaneous.”
Passeser said the animals at the drive-through safari have large habitats to roam, and staff have technology that lets them know when a storm is approaching so they can open up enclosures for the animals to seek shelter if they choose.
“It’s their choice as to whether they’d like to seek shelter and unfortunately that day they just did not choose to,” she told WPTV.
Passeser described it as a “billion-to-one” accident in an interview with NBC News.
“We are looking at anything we can to improve upon” safeguards, she said.
A statement from the park on Facebook said staff are “deeply saddened” by the loss.
“We continue to mourn our two incredibly lovely and charismatic giraffe; they will both be sorely missed,” the statement reads.
The tragedy brings the park’s herd of giraffes down to 18.
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