2 Giraffes Fatally Struck by 'Billion-to-One' Lightning Strike in Florida

Rebekah Sager
June 11, 2019 - 3:24 pm

Two giraffes were fatally struck by lightning at Lion Country Safari in Florida during a severe thunderstorm in May. 

"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," Lion Country Safari spokeswoman Haley Passeser said in an interview

The 10-year-old female, Lily, and the year-old male, Jioni, were killed standing in the pasture of their habitat when the storm developed. 

"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.

Lily stood 14 to 16 feet tall, and Jioni between 10 and 12 feet. The two were not related. 

There are "numerous shelters in the multiacre habitat, if they choose to use them." But, the park says, there is no way to force any of the giraffes to use them during a severe storm. None of the animal keepers witnessed the incident. 

According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, giraffe were listed as vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN Red List of threatened species in 2016, with numbers in Africa plummeting by a staggering 30 percent over the last 30 years. There are only approximately 111,000 giraffe remaining in all of Africa.

Healthy giraffes can liveabout 20 to 25 years in the wild. In captivity, they can live 28 years or longer.