Benito the giraffe is on a journey to central Mexico, where the weather feels more like home.
A giraffe named Benito is on a 50-hour trip to warmer climes after a campaign by animal activists in Mexico.
He left Mexico‘s northern border and its extreme weather conditions Sunday night and headed for a conservation park in the centre of the country, where the climate is more akin to his natural habitat and already a home to other giraffes.
Environmental groups had voiced strong complaints about conditions faced by Benito at the city-run Central Park zoo in Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, where weather in the summer is brutally hot and temperatures plunge during the winter.
A crane carefully lifted a container holding the giraffe onto a truck while city dwellers said a bittersweet goodbye. Some activists shouted, “We love you, Benito.”
“We’re a little sad that he’s leaving. but it also gives us great pleasure… The weather conditions are not suitable for him,” says Flor Ortega, a 23-year-old who has spent her entire life visiting Modesto the giraffe, who was at the zoo for two decades before dying in 2022, and then Benito, who arrived last May.
The transfer could not have come at a better time, just when a new cold front was about to hit the area.
Benito is travelling 2,000 kilometres to his new home
Benito was heading on a journey of 2,000 kilometres and about 50 hours on the road to his new home, the Africam Safari park in the state of Puebla. Visitors travel through the park in all-terrain vehicles to observe animals as if they were on safari.
The container, more than five metres high, was specially designed for Benito, and the giraffe was allowed to become familiar with it during the weekend, says Frank Carlos Camacho, the director of the park.
The animal‘s head sticks up through the top of the big wooden and metal box, but a frame allows a tarp to cover over Benito and insulate him from the cold, wind and rain as well as from noise and the sight of landscape speeding by.
“The giraffe has huge, huge eyes and gains height to be able to look for predators in the savannah and we have to inhibit that so that it does not have any source of stress,” Camacho says in a video posted on social media.
Inside the container is straw, alfalfa, water and vegetables. Electronic equipment will monitor the temperature and allow technicians to even talk to the animal.
Outside, Benito will be guarded by a convoy of vehicles with officers from the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection and the National Guard.
“He’s going to be calm, he’s going to travel super well. We’ve done this many times,” says Camacho.