Giraffe Benito escapes extreme temperatures for new home

Benito being fed on 21 January
Image caption,Activists had long warned that Benito was suffering in the extreme climate of Ciudad Juárez.

By Bernd Debusmann Jr.

BBC News

A giraffe named Benito has left his home in Mexico’s arid north to begin a 2,000km-trip (1,200 miles) to more temperate climates further south.

Benito’s voyage follows a long campaign by activists who warned that he was suffering in the extreme climates of the border city of Ciudad Juárez.

To reach his new home, Benito is travelling in a purpose-built 5m-tall container.

Some activists shouted “we love you” as he began his trip.

Until his departure, the three-year-old Benito had been kept in Ciudad Juárez’s Parque Central zoo.

Activists had long warned that the city’s desert climate – which can reach a a sweltering 42C (108F) in the summer and dip as low as freezing in the winter – was difficult for giraffes and that the zoo was not properly equipped to handle the animals.

A second giraffe which was kept at the zoo, Modesto, died in 2022.

The operation to move Benito began early on Monday morning, when the container in which he will travel was loaded onto a truck.

Benito had been allowed to familiarise himself with the container over the weekend.

The container is designed so that he can peek his head out from inside but can be covered with a tarp to protect him from the elements and potentially stressful sights and sounds.

Benito in his container
Image caption,Benito’s container is designed to let him see while also protecting him from potential stressors on the way.

The trip to his new home – a safari park in the state of Puebla – is expected to take approximately 50 hours.

Frank Carlos Camacho, the director of the safari park where Benito is headed, said that the container had cameras and sensors installed to allow his keepers to monitor him, as well as enough alfalfa, fruits, vegetables, and water to keep him fed along the way.

“We can check his temperature, and even talk to him through a microphone that’s inside the container,” Mr Camacho said. “He’s very well.”

Activists from the 'Let's Save Benito' collective holding signs
Image caption,Activists from the “Let’s Save Benito” collective holding signs reading “we did it” on 21 January

At his new home in Puebla’s African Safari park, visitors will be able to see him in a more natural habitat from all-terrain vehicles.

In an interview with Mexico’s Animal Politico news outlet, activist Perla Iris Guzmán – a member of the “Let’s Save Benito” collective – thanked “all the people who made this movement grow”.

“This is an accomplishment of the entire Juárez community,” she said. “[They] believed in us and went to the zoo to see what we meant about the ‘little’ animals.”

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