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Last Updated: Monday, 1 October 2007, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
Virus thwarts giraffe's romance
Yoda the Rothschild giraffe: Picture Paignton Zoo
Yoda arrived at the zoo just over a year ago
The romantic future of a young giraffe at a Devon zoo has been put on hold after the bluetongue outbreak.

Yoda, who came to Paignton Zoo after a fire which claimed the lives of three other animals, had been expected to be joined by a mate from the Netherlands.

But that had to be put on hold because of the outbreak of the virus in Europe.

But now the midge-borne disease has arrived in the UK, plans to bring two females from the Czech Republic instead may also have to be delayed.

The zoo is keen to find a mate for Yoda, a Rothschild's giraffe, as part of the European Endangered Species Programme.

The zoo's curator of mammals Neil Bemment: "We are in the hands of Defra [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs].

I'm sure Yoda will be pleased to see a female
Neil Bemment, Paignton Zoo

"We now have bluetongue in this country, we are monitoring the situation.

"Male giraffes spend a lot of time alone, but at the same time I'm sure Yoda will be pleased to see a female."

New bluetongue control-and-protect zones came into place at midnight following the announcement that there are now 11 cases of the disease.

Yoda, who is nearly three-years-old and over 4m (13.1ft) tall, arrived in Paignton from Givskud Zoo in Denmark just over a year ago after a fire at the Devon zoo in February 2006 killed three giraffes - a six-day-old calf, its mother and its father, who died a few days after the fire.


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