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Giraffe dies after hitting its head on bridge

One of two blindfolded giraffes being transported in the open air down a South African highway hits its head on a passing bridge and dies.

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A young giraffe has died from head injuries sustained while being transported, blindfolded, in an open truck along a South African highway, an animal welfare agency said.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Rick Allan said on Thursday he suspected the giraffe died after hitting its head against an overhead bridge.

The SPCA has launched investigations and may lay criminal charges against those involved in transporting two giraffes between the capital Pretoria and the commercial hub of Johannesburg.

"Two giraffes were being transported by road," he said. "One of the giraffes had an incident. We are not quite sure what happened, but we got unconfirmed reports that it hit its head on a bridge."

A veterinarian had determined that the giraffe, which he described as young "had died due to head injuries", he said.

The second animal was alive and well, he added.

It was unclear where the animals were being moved from or where they were being taken to, or if they were wild or belonged to a zoo, he said.

"Our investigations so far showed that the transport used was inadequate and incorrect," Mr Allan said.

"There are lots of projectiles flying around on the highway [and] especially leaving an animal with its head sticking out, blindfolded, is looking for problems."

It is not the first time this year that a giraffe has met a grisly end at the hands of its keepers.

In February, a Danish zoo sparked outrage as it put down a young giraffe named Marius, then chopped it up and fed it to lions as visitors, including young children, looked on.

AFP