THE first West African giraffe to be born in the UK shocked keepers at a Dalton zoo this morning.

The as yet unnamed giraffe, which is one of the rarest animals on the planet, was born at the South Lakes Wild Animal Park today.

Keepers thought the youngster, born to mum Elouise and dad Dayo, was not due until April.

There are only a few West African giraffes in captivity and no more than 450 in the wild in Niger, West Africa.

A zoo spokesperson said: "We have been directly involved with the protection of the wild population since 2005 and very proud of the success."