Saturday, August 29, 2015

Zoo Giraffes Won't Return to Six Flags

Five giraffes that survived a 2011 fire at the Animal Kingdom Zoo were taken in by Six Flags Great Adventure where they would interact with visitors as part of a special Close Encounters Tour last year. Now, Six Flags is launching a new Off Road Adventure where visitors can feed and interact with the animals - but the zoo giraffes will not be among them.

Zoo Giraffes Won't Return to Six Flags

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Visitors in a Jeep encounter a giraffe during their drive through Wild Safari at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, N.J. last year.
Visitors in a Jeep encounter a giraffe during their drive through Wild Safari at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, N.J. last year.

Five giraffes that had survived a tragic 2011 fire at the Animal Kingdom Zoo were relocated to Six Flags Great Adventure where they grew accustomed to interacting with visitors as part of a special Close Encounters Tour.   

This spring, Six Flags is launching a new Off Road Adventure where visitors ride open-air Safari vehicles into areas where they can feed the giraffes and some of the other animals.  But the Animal Kingdom giraffes won't be among them.     

The gentle creatures were returned to the small rural zoo in Springfield Township, Burlington County last fall after their barn was rebuilt.  The blaze had killed a mother giraffe and her baby, but seven of the herd had escaped. Two of the survivors later died of complications from the  October fire.

A few months ago, the zoo was closed to the public and went up for sale for $2.4 million. It had been open for decades. 

In recent years, the zoo was cited for numerous animal welfare violations due to a lack of adequate veterinary care, deaths linked to negligence, poor maintenance of the facilty, and several escapes. 

Kristin Siebeneicher, spokeswoman for Six Flags, said the zoo owner has not reached out to  Six Flags to take in the animals again.   

New Jersey Fish and Wildlife officials, which oversee small zoos and animal exhibits, say the giraffes and the other animals are still being looked after by caretakers while the zoo remains closed.    


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Written by Inquirer staff writer Jan Hefler, the Burlco Buzz blog covers breaking news in the the county, as well as its quirky characters, crime cases, politics, outdoor recreation and environment. Contact Jan at jhefler@phillynews.com.

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