Three South African giraffes die in Brazil zoo

Two giraffes with trees and grass around them
Giraffes in a park in South Africa, photo: Selim Kaya via Canva

Brazil’s federal police are investigating the deaths of three giraffes at a zoo in Rio de Janeiro and allegations that another 15 were mistreated.

The giraffes were imported from South Africa and taken to BioParque do Rio, a city zoo in Rio de Janeiro, owned by tourism company Grupo Cataratas. Two men were arrested for ill-treatment of the giraffes, and the 15 remaining animals have been confiscated.

“At the scene, federal police and environmental analysts verified a situation of mistreatment of the animals…two men responsible for keeping the animals were arrested,” Brazil’s federal police said in a statement.

Police added that they would also investigate whether it was legal to import the giraffes from South Africa. Eighteen giraffes were transported by air from South Africa to Brazil at the beginning of December.

On January 21, the zoo admitted the three giraffes died, claiming that they died because they escaped from an adaption area before being transported to the zoo. “After their containment and return to the pens, three died,” the park said.

In a statement sent to news agency AFP on Thursday, the zoo denied that the giraffes had been mistreated and that South African and Brazilian authorities approved the import.

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