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Tuesday, 9 July, 2002, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Giraffe sent to Russia for love
Lyuba is winched by a crane through to her new home in Moscow Zoo
It was not the most dignified of arrivals for Lyuba the giraffe

There was an urgent delivery at Moscow airport on Tuesday.

It was a rarity - a female who had come to Russia for love.

Giraffes Samson (background) and Lyuba (underneath) meet for the first time in Moscow Zoo
Lyuba (bottom) seemed a little hesitant of her new beau at first

However this was not a mail-order bride, but a five-month old baby giraffe from the US state of Florida, who was flown to Moscow Zoo in the hope she will mate with seven-year-old male giraffe Samson.

Lyuba was rushed across town after she landed, long-legged with big brown eyes; all she knew was that her beau was waiting eagerly for her at Moscow Zoo.

First meeting

Once there, it was hardly the most dignified arrival - hoisted over a fence to her new home.


He is very happy and she is looking at him very nicely, so I think they will get along very well together

Zoo benefactor Alec Wildenstein
Nonetheless the locals - in this case several vicious-looking tigers - hardly batted an eyelid.

Once settled she was given a chance to stretch her legs after her journey from the White Oak Conservation Centre - a private conservation institution in northern Florida.

And she was able to meet her prospective mate Samson, who clearly could not take his eyes off her.

Moscow Zoo spokeswoman Natalia Istratova hopes they will make a good pair.

"We hope that they will reproduce," she said.

Perfect couple?

However Lyuba at first seemed a little less sure - perhaps it was Samson's lack of subtlety as he sized her up.

Or maybe it was the age gap - he is a good six years older than she is.

But French benefactor Alec Wildenstein, who organised and paid for Lyuba's trip after hearing that the zoo could not afford the costs, said he felt the pair made a perfect couple.

"He is very happy and she is looking at him very nicely, so I think they will get along very well together," he said.

Nonetheless, judging from Lyuba's initial reaction, it looks as though Samson will have to use all of his Russian charm to woo his hesitant American bride.

See also:

13 Nov 00 | Africa
13 Jul 99 | Science/Nature
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