The VICE Guide to Right Now

Giraffe Found Dead After Escaping Truck Full of Zoo Animals in Thailand

The escape led to a two-day search using drones and hang gliders.
February 1, 2020, 12:27am
000_1OH9DL
This undated handout photo released on January 29, 2020 by the Fire Department Eastern Volunteer shows a runaway giraffe seen crossing a road in Bang Khla, Chachoengsao province. (Photo by Jongput JIRA-APAKUL / FIRE DEPARTMENT EASTERN VOLUNTEER / AFP)

This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA

In what could have been another sequel to Madagascar, two giraffes jumped out of a poorly secured container of zoo animals in Thailand, as their six-wheeler truck slowed down in highway traffic after leaving Bangkok's main airport on Tuesday, January 28.

The convoy of 24 lorries left the airport at about 4 p.m. en route to an animal breeding station near Rojana Industrial Estate in the Mahaphot district of Prachin Buri.

A team of national park and wildlife officials at the 2nd Forest Conservation Office in Chon Buri's Si Racha district tracked down, captured, and shot down with a tranquiliser one of the giraffes, who stood at 4 metres tall, but surprisingly, it was the taller one, who stood at 5-6 metres who managed to escape.

The driver of the truck, 53-year-old Monthon Mongphet, later discovered that the sliding door of the container was open and had not been properly locked.

The great escape was followed by thousands of people through Facebook posts of netizens and journalists trailing the hunt. In a video clip posted by netizen Nuntiya Mahathein, one of the giraffes seems to be running away from motorists, before one of the men speeds up and hits its hind legs.

The post has since gone viral with 15,000 shares, 13,000 reactions ranging from angry to sad, and comments empathising with the animal.

The other, still missing giraffe pushed the zoo staff and rescue workers to go on a search using drones and hang gliders. But sadly, two days after on Thursday, January 30, it was found dead and covered in lotus leaves in a ditch right in front of a hotel along Highway 304, Chachoengsao province, Bangkok Post reported.

Netizens started pouring in their condolences after news of the giraffe’s death broke.

The animals were imported by Safari World Plc, which operates Safari World —Thailand’s biggest animal park — and a number of other zoos in the country. According to the Executive Chairman of Safari World, this is the first time something like this had occurred in his more than 30 years in the business, suspecting the bolt on the door accidentally became unlatched while the container was being transferred onto the truck.

As soon as the giraffe’s body was found, both Safari World Plc staffers and rescue workers tried to retrieve the animal from the ditch. Veterinarians are now investigating the cause of death.

However, the multi-million dollar company has been criticised in the past for training their animals to perform for entertainment, such as forcing orangutans to do stage boxing matches. As soon as videos spread online, netizens called the zoo out for exploiting the intelligent and sensitive creatures.

At the time, a spokesperson from PETA said: “When you see these animals performing what are uncomfortable and stressful tricks, know that they’re not doing it because they want to — they’re doing it because they’re afraid to, often subjected to electric shocks, cigarette burns or beatings if they do not obey in training.”

Find Lia on Twitter and Instagram.