Five giraffes that had survived a tragic 2011 fire at the Animal Kingdom Zoo were relocated to Six Flags Great Adventure where they grew accustomed to interacting with visitors as part of a special Close Encounters Tour.
This spring, Six Flags is launching a new Off Road Adventure where visitors ride open-air Safari vehicles into areas where they can feed the giraffes and some of the other animals. But the Animal Kingdom giraffes won't be among them.
The gentle creatures were returned to the small rural zoo in Springfield Township, Burlington County last fall after their barn was rebuilt. The blaze had killed a mother giraffe and her baby, but seven of the herd had escaped. Two of the survivors later died of complications from the October fire.
A few months ago, the zoo was closed to the public and went up for sale for $2.4 million. It had been open for decades.
In recent years, the zoo was cited for numerous animal welfare violations due to a lack of adequate veterinary care, deaths linked to negligence, poor maintenance of the facilty, and several escapes.
Kristin Siebeneicher, spokeswoman for Six Flags, said the zoo owner has not reached out to Six Flags to take in the animals again.
New Jersey Fish and Wildlife officials, which oversee small zoos and animal exhibits, say the giraffes and the other animals are still being looked after by caretakers while the zoo remains closed.