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 sweltering 420C (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 Tuesday morning, when the container in which he will travel was loaded onto a truck. Benito had been allowed to familiarize 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.
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.”
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.”