A giraffe reportedly died this week on a South African highway after hitting its head on a bridge. The animal is said to have been traveling at the back of an open-air truck at the time.
According to the BBC, the giraffe — which was with a companion — was on its way to a game farm in Warmbarths, located about 99 miles outside Johannesburg, when the incident occurred.
Rick Allan of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told NBC News that “the way that these giraffes were being transported was incorrect and not up to standards.”
"Their heads were above the vehicle which meant that one of them cracked their head [on] the bridge. That's something we are very concerned about and we will be looking at a prosecution under animal cruelty legislation,” he told the news outlet, adding that the giraffe had probably died instantly.
On Thursday, several eyewitnesses posted photographs on Twitter of the giraffe before its death. One of these Twitter users, a South African TV and radio presenter named Pabi Moloi, described the scene to Mashable.
“As I was getting [photographs of the giraffes] the truck went under a bridge and suddenly one of the giraffes hit its head hard on the concrete. The sound was so loud that my cousin, who was driving, asked me if there was someone shooting because she thought she'd heard a gunshot,” she said. “That sound of a skull being hit and the force with which it threw the giraffes head forward is something I won't easily forget."
— Wingate Road Runners (@wingaterunners) July 31, 2014
Since giraffes are so tall, Mashable notes, in the past, zoos have used special, custom-built trailers and vehicles to transport the animals.
In 2012, for instance, a giraffe was transported from the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, New South Wales, to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney in a specially designed transport crate, per News.com.au; and last year, BBC reported that a giraffe in England named Tonda was moved from one zoo to another in a trailer with an adjustable roof.
UDPATE 8/1: South Africa's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals announced it is planning to sue those responsible for the giraffe's death. "We're very concerned about the way it was transported. Most definitely there has been negligence," NSPCA manager Rick Allen said, according to Reuters.