Florida isn’t recognized as the lightning capital of the United States for nothing; in fact, quite the contrary. The state is particularly renowned for the frequent and dangerous lightning strikes that tend to manifest themselves during severe thunderstorms, and a seemingly-endless band of thunderstorms has ravaged the state of Florida as of late.
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While the rain was certainly needed to end Florida’s somewhat concerning multi-month dry spell, the lightning strikes that transpire during these thunderstorms pose a substantial risk to both animals and humans alike. Sadly, two giraffes that were situated at Florida’s Lion Country Safari park, named Lily and Jioni, learned this the hard way after being struck by lightning.
According to a public statement shared on the Lion County Safari’s Facebook page, both giraffes perished from the incident almost six weeks ago. Their passing was kept a secret from the general public until just this week, as the park decided to wait for the necropsy results to validate the actual cause of death before publicizing the information.
“We are deeply saddened to share the passing of two of our giraffes due to a lightning strike,” the park explained in their statement. “Lily and Jioni were in the pasture in their habitat when a severe thunderstorm quickly developed six weeks ago.”
According to the necropsy results, lightning was indeed the reason that these giraffes aren’t still with us today, and their deaths were instantaneous, which fortunately means that the animals didn’t suffer. The park went on to explain that the animals have access to a multi-acre habitat with shelters and that they can enter them on demand, but as it would seem, the giraffes didn’t opt to use their accommodations at the time of the lightning strike. Many animals often choose to reside outside of their shelters, as they don’t feel as claustrophobic when doing so.
“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,” the park added. “We continue to mourn our two incredibly lovely and charismatic giraffe; they will both be sorely missed.”
Lion Country Safari is home to more than a dozen other giraffes, and while the two deceased will be undoubtedly missed, park-goers will still have several long-necked animals to look at while visiting.