Gi­raffe project is no tall order

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Heavyweight Defeated -

Mo­torists on the M20 are used to see­ing some un­usual loads on the move.

But one cargo def­i­nitely at­tracted a few dou­ble-takes on Mon­day af­ter­noon as a trailer car­ry­ing a gi­raffe made its way down the mo­tor­way past Ash­ford.

The gi­raffe was be­ing trans­ported from Paign­ton Zoo in Devon to Port Lympne Wild An­i­mal Park.

The head of the ex­otic an­i­mal could be seen pok­ing above the tail­gate of the ve­hi­cle mak­ing its way through traf­fic on the M25, M26 and M20.

The gi­raffe is called Valentino af­ter be­ing born on Valen­tine’s Day in 2012.

Paign­ton Zoo said Valentino is a Roth­schild’s gi­raffe – clas­si­fied as an en­dan­gered species – and he had to be hand-reared by keep­ers fol­low­ing re­jec­tion by his mother.

The tall cargo, clearly vis­i­ble in the su­per-size HGV, was pho­tographed by a Gravesend man. He posted on Twit­ter: “Just seen the most un­usual sight on the M25, a #gi­raffe.”

Port Lympne said Valentino will join the two fe­male Roth­schild’s gi­raffes al­ready at the park and his ar­rival sig­nals the start of the re­serve’s breed­ing pro­gramme with these en­dan­gered an­i­mals. An­i­mal direc­tor Adrian Har­land said: “We are de­lighted to wel­come this lovely male gi­raffe to the re­serve and to be ac­cepted as part of this breed­ing pro­gramme.

“There are so few Roth­schild’s gi­raffes in the wild that pro­grammes like this one are es­sen­tial.”

Port Lympne Re­serve has now joined an ex­clu­sive group of just 14 in­sti­tu­tions in the UK to have Roth­schild’s gi­raffes and has be­come part of a world­wide breed­ing pro­gramme de­signed to save the en­dan­gered species. It is es­ti­mated that fewer than 700 in­di­vid­u­als re­main in the wild.

Paul Beer, head of the rhino and gi­raffe sec­tion, added: “The ar­rival of Valentino is fan­tas­tic news. He’s a good-look­ing, healthy male and I’m hop­ing that the girls take a shine to him.”

Vis­i­tors to the re­serve will be able to see Valentino ex­plor­ing his new sur­round­ings on The African Ex­pe­ri­ence – 100 acres of land, alive with African an­i­mals in­clud­ing black rhi­nos, ze­bras, wilde­beest and os­triches.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on a mo­tor­way? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@ thek­m­

Valentino the gi­raffe in his new home at Port Lympne

The gi­raffe stuck in traf­fic on the M25 in Kent

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