Lightning Kills 2 Giraffes at Park in Florida: Report

June 11, 2019 Updated: June 11, 2019

Lion County Safari officials confirmed that two giraffes were killed by a lightning strike during a storm several weeks ago.

Officials in the Palm Beach County, Florida, park said that 1-year-old Jioni and 10-year-old Lily were killed by lightning six weeks ago. Testing recently confirmed the development, WPTV reported on June 11, which added that the animals were not related.

“The whole team here was devastated and we’re still in the mourning process weeks later,” said Haley Passeser, a spokesperson for Lion Country Safari, to the station. “There were a lot of tears shed. Some of our keepers had to take some personal time off to process.”

A tower of giraffes at sunrise in the Mashatu game reserve in Mapungubwe, Botswana, on July 27, 2010. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
A tower of giraffes at sunrise in the Mashatu game reserve in Mapungubwe, Botswana, on July 27, 2010. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

When thunderstorms hit the area weeks ago, officials opened up the animal shelter area in the park, but it is up to the animals themselves to seek shelter or stay outside.

Passeser noted that the severe weather approached the park with little warning.

“We do try to provide them a lot of choice, and in a case such as that when we ourselves are also seeking shelter,” said Passeser. “If they don’t choose to seek shelter, there isn’t a lot we can do to encourage them to.”

A stock photo of giraffes (Shutterstock)

The giraffes were in the middle of the pasture when the lightning hit.

“For them it is more safe and more comfortable for them to be out in the open environment and understand what’s going on around them,” said the park spokesman.

A mother giraffe licks her 20-day old baby calf at the Alipore Zoological Gardens in Kolkata on June 10, 2013. With the birth of this newborn, the number of African giraffes has increased to nine and the garden authorities are taking special care of the newborn and its mother. (Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images)

The park said it is now reviewing its policies regarding lightning and thunderstorms.

“It was just very tragic, natural effect, natural accident, and it was very devastating to our staff and we are still mourning from it,” said Passeser.

Lightning Kills Motorcyclist

A motorcyclist died on June 9 after he was struck by lightning while traveling down Interstate 95 in Volusia County, Florida.

The Florida Highway Patrol, on Sunday evening, tweeted a picture of the rider’s helmet, showing what appears to be two holes at the top.

“This is what’s left of a 45-year-old man’s helmet after he was struck by lightning, while riding his motorcycle southbound, on I-95 in Volusia County this afternoon. Unfortunately he did not survive the crash,” the highway patrol’s Orlando office wrote.

According to Fox35 Orlando, he was identified as a 45-year-old North Carolina man.  After being hit by lightning, the driver left the motorway and crashed.

The U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) says that lightning “is s a major cause of storm-related deaths” in the United States.

“A lightning strike can result in a cardiac arrest (heart stopping) at the time of the injury, although some victims may appear to have a delayed death a few days later if they are resuscitated but have suffered irreversible brain damage,” according to the weather agency.

The average number of lightning-related deaths reported in the U.S. is 29 per year. About 243 people are injured annually, it adds.

“Over the last 30 years (1989-2018) the U.S. has averaged 43 reported lightning fatalities per year. Only about 10 percent of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90 percent with various degrees of disability. More recently, in the last 10 years (2009-2018), the U.S. has averaged 27 lightning fatalities,” the agency says.