MALIBU, Calif. (Reuters) - Stanley the giraffe and about 140 other creatures were safe after their small California exotic animal park was largely destroyed by the fierce wildfire that swept through the mountains above Malibu, the park’s owners said.
Stanley, who became a cause celebre on social media, rode out the firestorm at the Malibu Wine Safari along with other large, exotic animals because the risk of moving them was too great, Dakota Semler told Reuters in an interview this week.
“The worst rumors out there are that we completely neglected our animals, which isn’t true. We’ve been here with them the whole time,” said Semler, whose family owns the park.
“It’s dangerous to transport an 18 foot giraffe in a 12 foot trailer. Most exotics are very hard to transport. You risk shock and injury,” Semler said.
Stanley’s fate became the subject of a social media outcry after a photo of the giraffe appeared online, seemingly showing him abandoned at the property.
“Can anyone assist in getting Stanley the giraffe to a safe place??? He’s currently stuck in the Malibu wine safari area and is not safe. Please. This entire situation is devastating for everyone, and I just won’t be able to handle hearing that Stanley couldn’t be saved. Please,” said “Modern Family” actress Ariel Winter in Twitter post.
Reality television star Khloe Kardashian also weighed in on the reports, saying in a tweet that she had been assured the safari’s animals were out of danger.
“Y’all know I have a special place for giraffes in my heart! All animals but I am being told that all animals from Malibu wines safari are safe!! I didn’t think they would do that to Stanley. That’s a fake report,” Kardashian said in the post.
Semler said a “skeleton crew” of 32 employees stayed behind throughout the firestorm, defying evacuation orders to save all but three pigs, two parrots, an emu and a sheep out of the 140 animals housed there, including about 80 horses, a llama and several camels.
At least four major ev6acuation centers have been set up to care for animals rescued from the path of the flames, with several hundred housed at each.
The Hansen Dam Horse Park was providing shelter for about 400 large animals, including horses, donkeys, llamas, goats and pigs, operations manager Suzy Goddard said.
“We’ll keep them as long as they need,” Goddard said. “Some evacuations have been lifted, but some people have no home to go back to.”
Reporting by Dana Feldman in Malibu; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Bill Berkrot