Giraffe at Animal Kingdom killed by lightning

Published July 24, 2003|Updated Sept. 1, 2005

Lightning killed a giraffe at Disney's Animal Kingdom, the resort park said Wednesday.

Betsy, a 6-year-old and one of the park's 16 giraffes, had been at Animal Kingdom since 1998, when the park opened. On Monday she was wandering in the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction when a sudden storm moved through, Disney spokeswoman Diane Ledder said.

The park has lightning rods throughout the safari area to protect animals, Ledder said. Animals typically are brought inside in severe weather, but Monday's storm gave too little warning, she said.

Ledder said the lightning struck while visitors were in the park, but she did not know if anyone witnessed the giraffe's death. "To the best of my knowledge, it was a quick death," she said.

It was the park's first animal death from lightning, Ledder said.

Other zoos have lost animals to lightning, though rarely, said Michael Hutchins, conservation and science director at the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.