Giraffe hits head on S.A. bridge during transport, dies

By Amy Hubbard Los Angeles Times Published:

PRETORIA, South Africa (MCT) -- A giraffe in South Africa has died after cracking its head on a bridge as it was being transported in an open vehicle down a freeway. As anger spread on Twitter, local media quoted the owner as saying the animal had craned its neck.

Witness Thinus Botha, of Pretoria, talked to the Los Angeles Times on Thursday morning. The engineer, 32, had been following the vehicle on a highway. It was transporting two giraffes. Botha pulled over to take a picture.

Just after he snapped the shot through his windshield, the vehicle drove under the bridge "and there was a big bang" as one of the giraffes hit its head, he said. The thump was so loud, Botha heard it with his car windows rolled up.

"Blood was coming from its nose and mouth," he said.

Earlier, the animals had been stranded alongside the highway after the vehicle they were riding in broke down, he said.

Local media reported the giraffe later died. South Africa's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) cited severe head trauma and said the investigation was continuing "with the view to possibly lay criminal charges against those responsible." quoted the SPCA's Rick Allan as saying the animals had not been transported properly. They should have been covered by a "specially designed container that looks like a crate," he told the news outlet.

As for the giraffe possibly craning its neck, Botha said the animal never lifted his head higher than it was when he took the picture, just before impact.

"It seems like he was bound to hit his head at some point."

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