'Rare' West African giraffe born at South Lakes Wild Animal Park

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Media captionThe female giraffe has yet to be named

A West African giraffe - said to be "one of the rarest animals on the planet" - has been born at a Cumbrian wildlife park.

Bosses at the South Lakes Wild Animal Park at Dalton-in-Furness believe it is the first of its type to be born in the UK.

They said there were only a few dozen in captivity and no more than 450 in the wild in Niger, West Africa.

The newborn is female but has not yet been named.

'Everyone excited'

It was discovered earlier by keepers at the park and was born to mother Elouise and father Dayo.

Spokeswoman Karen Brewer said: "It's fabulous for us. Everyone is so excited.

"We knew she was pregnant but we weren't expecting the baby until around April. The keepers came into work at 8am and found her.

"We'll let mum do her job and make sure she has lots of food to give her; she is warm and comfortable and not spooked by anything."

Another of the park's three female West African giraffes is pregnant by the sole male with her baby due around early summer.

Ms Brewer added: "This is one of the rarest animals on the planet, with between 35-40 in captivity in the whole of Europe and no more than 450 in the wild.

"We have been directly involved with the protection of the wild population since 2005 and are very proud of the success."

In the wild, West African giraffes are often hunted for their tails, their pelt and meat.

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