Escaped giraffe found dead in lotus ditch

Escaped giraffe found dead in lotus ditch

Rescue workers try to retrieve the dead giraffe from a roadside ditch in Chachoengsao province on Thursday. (Screenshot from TV Channel 8)
Rescue workers try to retrieve the dead giraffe from a roadside ditch in Chachoengsao province on Thursday. (Screenshot from TV Channel 8)

A giraffe that escaped from a container of zoo animals on the way to a breeding station in Prachin Buri was found dead in Chachoengsao province on Thursday after a two-day search using drones and hang gliders.

The giraffe was found in the ditch in front of Sunrise Lagoon Hotel & Golf Club on Highway 304 along Chachoengsao-Phanom Sarakham route at around 1.30pm. The animal was partially covered with lotus leaves in the ditch, Thai media reported.

Safari World Plc staffers and rescue workers tried to retrieve the carcass from the ditch. Veterinarians would investigate the cause of the animal’s death.

On Tuesday, a convoy of 24 lorries with the animals in containers left Suvarnabhumi airport about 4pm. The destination was an animal breeding station near Rojana Industrial Estate in Mahaphot district of Prachin Buri.

The animals were imported by Safari World Plc, which operates a number of zoos in Thailand.

One of the lorries, a six-wheeler, was carrying a container with three giraffes. As it was travelling along Highway 304 in Bang Khla district, two giraffes jumped from the back of the poorly secured lorry as it slowed in highway traffic after leaving Bangkok's main airport on Tuesday.

After being reported, a team of national park and wildlife officials at the 2nd Forest Conservation Office in Chon Buri's Si Racha district tracked down and recaptured a 4-metre-tall giraffe with a tranquiliser shot, but there was no sign of the other one, which was 5-6 metres tall. 

Hundreds of thousands of people followed Facebook live videos of journalists trailing the hunt for the runaway ungulate.

Comments lamenting its fate poured onto social media.

"Hope you reincarnate in a better world lil giraffe," said one.

Safari World is Thailand's biggest animal park, but the multi-million-dollar company has in the past been criticised for training its creatures to perform for entertainment — including staging boxing matches with orangutans.

Zoos and animal shows are common in the country, where tourists pay to have their pictures taken with tigers or watch elephants play football and perform tricks.

A video clip shows a man speeding his motorcycle and hit a giraffe ahead of him along Highway 304 in Chachoengsao province. It is not clear which giraffe is shown in the clip posted on Facebook at 6.53pm on Tuesday. (Nuntiya Mahathein Facebook)

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