Zookeepers were stunned when they checked on a giraffe one morning to discover she had given birth – as they had no idea she was pregnant.
The male calf – who has not yet been named – was born at 7.30am on Monday to first-time mother Sangha at Paignton Zoo, Devon.
Keeper Jim Dicks was shocked when they went to he pen for the morning feed and discovered the cute baby giraffe unsteadily nestling at her mother’s feet.
He said: “The birth came 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.
“The first we knew about it was when we found the youngster when we arrived early on Monday morning.”
The zoo now has five Baringo giraffes, which are classified as endangered.
Father Yoda came from Givskud Zoo, Denmark, where he was born on November 14 2004 and was brought to Devon in September 2006.
Mother Sangha, five and a half, came from Liberec Zoo in Slovakia. The Zoo’s herd is completed by female Janica and her calf Tonda, born in February 2010.
Philip Knowling, a spokesperson for Paignton Zoo, said: “Giraffes tend to swell up in the last few weeks before birth.
“Sangha started doing this last summer and we thought she might give birth in August.
“However she didn’t and everyone assumed it was just a false alarm.
“Wild animals can disguise pregnancy, injury and sickness very well as a survival strategy.”
“It was a huge surprise for everyone, but a very nice one.
“We haven’t a chance to weigh the baby yet, as we tend not to interfere in the first few days of bonding between a mother and child, but I know the calf is over five feet tall already.”
It is thought that Sangha gave birth overnight night as it would be safer to do so to avoid predators in the wild.