Zookeepers stunned by birth of 5ft baby giraffe after ‘secret’ pregnancy

Zoo keepers have been shocked by the birth of a 5ft baby giraffe to a mother who kept her pregnancy hidden.

The as-yet-unnamed calf was born at Paignton Zoo in Devon on Monday morning to first-time mother Sangha.

Zoo keeper Jim Dicks said: 'The birth has come as a bit of a surprise. We thought Sangha might be pregnant back in the summer, but the signs were not clear and we began to think it was a false alarm.

'Wild animals are very good at keeping this sort of thing hidden. The first we knew about it was when we found the youngster when we arrived early on Monday morning.'

Although he is Sangha's first baby following a 16-month pregnancy, his father Yoda had a calf by the zoo's other female, Janica, in February last year.

Because the first few days of a baby giraffe's life are so critical, the zookeepers prefer not to choose a name, but their shortlist is from three Swahili names - Kito (Jewel), Nakuru (waterbuck haven) and Mosi (first born), and the Czech names Jacob and Josef.

All the signs are good so far,' said zoo press officer Philip Knowling.

The new arrival is expected to draw big crowds to the tourist attraction, which in 2006 tragically lost all three of its giraffes - Paddy, Kizi and their week-old calf - in a fire.

The zoo now has five Rothschild's (Baringo) giraffes, which are classified as endangered.

Curator of mammals Neil Bemment said: 'We are very pleased to have a second youngster within a year.'

The calf is expected to be given some time to find his feet before going on show.

Sangha, who is five and a half, arrived from Liberec Zoo in Slovakia, while six-year-old Yoda came from Givskud Zoo in Denmark.