PETA demands confiscation of giraffes once owned by Jackson

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PETA demands confiscation of giraffes once owned by Jackson
January 11th, 2010 @ 5:20pm
By John Hollenhorst

SALT LAKE CITY -- An animal rights group Monday called on authorities in Northern Arizona to confiscate two giraffes that were once owned by entertainer Michael Jackson. The statement from PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, follows the deaths of two other giraffes in the same compound near Lake Powell.

The two giraffe deaths, one in November and one last week, have triggered serious accusations about the quality of their care. Critics blame abuse and neglect, but the new owners say they suspect foul play.

The giraffes were the centerpiece of a dream for Freddie Hancock and her husband Tommy. They bought four giraffes from Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch and planned a wildlife preserve.

 

History of the Neverland Ranch giraffes
Freddie and Tommy Hancock, founders of Banjoko Wildlife Preserve, purchased four giraffes from Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch in 2008 during Jackson's legal and financial troubles. The Hancock's intended to build a 185 acre enclosure of natural habitats near Lake Powell to showcase the giraffes and other exotic animals, but the Hancocks have been embroiled in an eviction battle with the city of Page, Ariz. and the project has never gotten underway. Two of the giraffes have since died.

Now the Hancocks are studying their legal options after losing a court battle last week that paves the way for eviction by the city of Page, Ariz. Freddie Hancock told KSL on Monday they do intend to move the giraffes, but it's to keep them safe, not because of the quality of their care.

"We've had them for three and a half years, and they are like our children," said Freddie Hancock. "We're just absolutely devastated by the death of these giraffes."

 

ver the last year, a nasty dispute has erupted, and it's being spread around the world on the Internet. It was triggered by Marc Chandler, who used to work for the Hancocks as their wildlife manager.

He called KSL from South America. "Those two people should be brought up on cruelty charges. I mean, it's disgusting," Chandler said.

He claims the giraffes died from cold weather, abuse and neglect. "Two magnificent animals passed away just for the sake of irresponsibility and somebody that doesn't know what they're doing," Chandler said.

But Freddie Hancock portrays Chandler as a disgruntled ex-employee who was discharged for misconduct.

"I know that there is absolutely no possibility of abuse and neglect," Hancock said. A vet found no clear cause of death, according to Hancock, but she suspects poisoning. "I do have suspicions that there has been some form of foul play, absolutely."

Meanwhile the Michael Jackson-giraffe connection continues to stir his fans. YouTube video features a giraffe made from Michael Jackson newspaper clippings. Another fan in Australia posted a video calling for the two remaining giraffes to be relocated. Tegan Ellis called KSL from the remote town of Wagga Wagga, Australia, and said the "ideal plan is to get them to Africa and rehabilitated and released back into the wild in Michael Jackson's honor."

 

 

The city of Page, Ariz., says the Hancocks no longer have a valid lease on city property and will soon have to move the giraffes. Freddie Hancock says the giraffes will be moved for their own protection, but at this point she isn't saying where.

E-mail: hollenhorst@ksl.com



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