Lightning kills giraffe at Disney's Animal Kingdom
an Associated Press report 7/23/03

LAKE BUENA VISTA - Lightning struck and killed a giraffe at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park, company officials said Wednesday.

The accident occurred Monday afternoon as a severe lightning storm moved over the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction, where Betsy the giraffe roamed as visitors passed through, Disney spokeswoman Diane Ledder said.

A necropsy confirmed that the 6-year-old female giraffe was killed by lightning, Ledder said.

"To the best of my knowledge, it was a quick death," she said. It was unclear if any tourists saw the lighting strike.

Betsy was the first animal to die from a lightning strike at the central Florida theme park, she said.

"It's very unfortunate and unusual ... but it has happened in the past" at other U.S. parks, Ledder said.

The park has lightning rods placed throughout the safari area to protect animals, she said. Animals can also be brought inside during severe weather, but the lightning storm came through with too little warning, she said.