ERIE, Pa. (AP) _ An adult giraffe died at the Erie Zoo when his neck got caught in a chain stretched across his pen, officials said.

''It was a freak accident,'' Cynthia Kreider, the zoo's general curator, said Monday. ''If I hadn't seen it myself, I'd have found it hard to believe.''

Pete, a 12-year-old African giraffe purchased from the St. Louis Zoo, had been one of the Erie Zoo's most popular animals for the past 10 years. He and his mate, Millie, bred a female giraffe named Tiptop in August.

The accident occurred Monday morning shortly after Pete was fed at his indoor pen, zoo officials said.

''We still don't know just how he did it, but he panicked and when he pulled back he broke his neck,'' said Zoo Director James Rhea.