The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals confirmed Thursday that one of two giraffes being transported on a highway in Pretoria, South Africa, has died from head trauma. Witnesses posted images of the truck carrying the animals before the accident.
Look how low that bridge is and how tall the giraffes are. Who thought this one through? I wish I hadn't seen this. pic.twitter.com/as2jJkIwpv— Pabi Moloi (@PabiMoloi) July 31, 2014
The BBC reports that the vehicle broke down—it’s not clear how—after the giraffe hit the bridge. It was several hours before it was repaired, and the animals were taken to a vet. NSPCA said one died by the time it arrived.
“All we can ascertain at this stage is severe head trauma,” NSPCA spokesperson Rick Allan told The Independent. “We are continuing our investigation with the view to possibly lay criminal charges against those responsible.” According to the website, Allan told eNews Channel Africa that the vehicle didn’t follow animal transportation codes set by the South African Bureau of Standards.
“When you are transporting giraffes on an open road, their heads should be covered by a structure which is a specially designed container that looks like a crate,” he said. Allan told the BBC that the vehicle was traveling to a game farm 99 miles outside Johannesburg.
Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world; males can reach up to 18 feet tall, while females can grow up to 14 feet. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation estimates that fewer than 80,000 giraffes exist, down from 140,000 in 1999.