Giraffe captured after escape from Fort Wayne zoo exhibit

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A giraffe escaped its enclosure at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo and evaded capture for more than two hours midday Monday.

Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo officials said just before noon Monday, female reticulated giraffe Thabisa got out of her exhibit in the African Journey. The zoo’s youngest escaped from the enclosure after she repeatedly tried to run through the cables of the exhibit causing them to eventually snap.

The giraffe made its way to a fenced parking lot at 3675 Wells St. – still on the zoo’s property but not a public area.

Zookeepers worked for more than two hours to keep the animal calm and move it back to its exhibit. It could be seen running around a building just off the parking lot as staff held long tarps.

The giraffe was eventually captured around 2 p.m.

The zoo issued the following statement:

As many of you may know, our youngest giraffe Thabisa decided to have a little adventure today! Thanks for all of your concern for her safety, but after realizing our nonpublic parking lot outside the giraffe barn wasn’t that exciting, she decided to go back into the barn all on her own. She remained on zoo property for the duration of her adventure, and is now resting safely behind the scenes. In all 40+ years of having giraffes here at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, nothing like this has ever happened before, but we will re-evaluate our giraffe exhibit and take extra precautions to ensure the continued safety of our animals and staff.

A small crowd gathered in the area to watch the situation unfold.

The last public animal escape at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo appeared to be in 2004, when five wildebeests escaped from the then-African Veldt as workers were moving them to a barn for the winter. Those animals, though, escaped to the streets of Fort Wayne as zoo employees gave chase.

The wildebeests were eventually tranquilized and returned to the zoo. Two were injured during the affair and had to be euthanized, however.

The zoo opened for the season on Saturday. It opened for the day at 9 a.m.

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