Video: Giraffes take first steps in their new neck of the woods

FOUR giraffes, including an 18-month-old which travelled to Doncaster from Copenhagen, took their first steps in a new enclosure yesterday after becoming the newest arrivals at Yorkshire Wildlife Park.

The animals, called Jasper, Behansin, Jambo and Palle, are all males, but keepers at the park said they hoped to establish a breeding colony, adding that their new giraffe house had a capacity of 16.

Park director Cheryl Williams said seven-year-old Behansin and Jasper, 12, both hybrid giraffes which are not rare, were brought to Yorkshire from the West Midlands Safari Park, while Jambo, an endangered Rothschild giraffe, came from Woburn Safari Park.

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Palle, a rare reticulated giraffe, was brought from the Danish capital via a ferry to Hull, and all four giraffes had to be loaded onto specialised lorries operated by a company from Holland.

Mrs Williams said: “When Palle arrived he was very tired and he just sat down for a while. But all four of the giraffes have now found the confidence to come out into the enclosure.

“Palle was actually the bravest and came out first, which we weren’t expecting.”

The new giraffe enclosure which includes a 16 acre “African reserve” cost £350,000 and is next to the park’s Leopard Heights area, where visitors can see the rare Amur leopard.

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A platform has been built which Mrs Williams said would allow “face to face” contact with the giraffes while at ground level people will be able to stand just three feet away from them.

It is believed that there are only around 650 Rothschild giraffes left in the wild, and experts said the variety is at great risk from hybridisation as a result of its limited numbers.