Page last updated at 16:11 GMT, Sunday, 14 June 2009 17:11 UK

Unexpected hairy arrival at park

New baby camel at Knowsley Safari Park
Staff at the safari park said they had no idea the camel was pregnant

The birth of an endangered camel was an "unexpected" arrival on Merseyside after its mother's long hair concealed the pregnancy for more than a year.

The yet unnamed Bactrian camel calf was born at Knowsley Safari Park in Prescot, weighing about 88lbs.

Staff were surprised by the new arrival after discovering his mother Wendy was pregnant only six weeks ago. A normal gestation period is 15 months.

There are only about 1,000 Bactrian camels left living in the wild.

It was only when the camel began to shed her hair that zoo keepers realised the impending birth
Penny Boyd, Knowsley Safari Park

Penny Boyd from the safari park said: "We are absolutely delighted. It was very unexpected.

"We did not think we would get any new arrivals for the camels until next year.

"The father, Douglas, is very young. He was only three years old when he mated with the female. The camels normally reach maturity at around four or five years."

Ms Boyd added that the pregnancy went unnoticed due to the large amount of hair on the animal.

"Their coats are also shedding at the moment and they are very long coated so it's difficult to see what's happening beneath the coat.

"It was only when the camel began to shed her hair that zoo keepers realised the impending birth," she said.

The camel was born on Sunday in the park's grounds and was taken into a covered enclosure.

His arrival was announced to the press five days later.

He will join his father and five females when he returns to the park in a few days, said a spokesman for the zoo.



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