A giraffe whose daring escape from convoy en route to a Thai breeding station won hearts online was found dead in a lotus-clogged canal on Thursday after a two-day search using drones and hang gliders.
Two giraffes made a bid for freedom from the back of a poorly secured truck as it slowed in highway traffic after leaving Bangkok’s main airport on Tuesday.
The animals had been imported from an unnamed African country and destined for Safari World, a popular attraction outside Bangkok which describes itself as “an open zoo”.
Rescuers caught one of the creatures after stunning it with a tranquiliser gun, but the other escaped into scrubland – cheered on by hundreds of thousands of people on social media.
The story took a tragic turn, however, after it was found dead in a lotus swamp near a main road, according to Safari World.
Vets will determine the cause of death.
Hundreds of thousands of Thais followed Facebook live videos of journalists trailing the hunt for the runaway ungulate.
Comments lamenting its fate poured onto social media.
“Hope you reincarnate in a better world lil giraffe,” said one.
Safari World is Thailand’s biggest animal park, but the multi-million dollar company has in the past been criticised for training its creatures to perform for entertainment – including staging boxing matches with orangutans.
Zoos and animal shows are common in Thailand, where tourists pay to have their pictures taken with tigers or watch elephants play football and perform tricks.