Anaconda
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Female anaconda's West Midlands Safari Park 'virgin birth'

The arrival of three baby anacondas at West Midlands Safari Park is being heralded as a "miraculous virgin birth" by staff.

Reptile handlers at the park believe they are the first snakes of their kind ever to be born in captivity, without any help from a male.

The scientific name for the births is parthenogenesis, which is literally Greek for "virgin birth".

Mark O'Shea, consultant curator of reptiles, said it had initially come as a "shock".

"Not everything is known, that is the beauty of science," he said. "We are still discovering things that surprise and amaze us."