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Kent's giraffe motorway mystery solved as exotic animal spotted in lorry on M25, M26 and M20 in Kent on way to Port Lympne from Paignton Zoo

By KentOnline reporter

The mystery of a giraffe seen travelling through Kent that left motorists turning their necks in surprise has been solved.

The head of the exotic animal could be seen poking above the tailgate of a multi-coloured trailer making its way through traffic on the M25, M26 and M20 yesterday afternoon.

Now it has emerged the giraffe was being transported to his new home at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, near Hythe, from Devon.

A giraffe spotted in a lorry on the M25 in Kent. Picture: @markssixtynine

Paignton Zoo said it was a Rothschild's giraffe - classified as an endangered species - called Valentino, who had been born on Valentine's Day in 2012,

It had to be hand reared by keepers following rejection by his mother.

Valentino the giraffe arrives at his new home in Port Lympne

The tall cargo, clearly visible in the super-size HGV, was photographed by a Gravesend man.

He posted on Twitter: "Just seen the most unusual sight on the M25, a #giraffe."

Another witness took this picture of the lorry carrying the giraffe. Picture: @GuyNight

The foreign-registered vehicle was spotted on the anti-clockwise carriageway of the M25 in Kent.

It is believed to have then turned off to the M26 - fuelling earlier suggestions it could have been heading for Dover for a cross-Channel ferry.

Valentino the giraffe arrives at his new home in Port Lympne

Valentino is joining the two female Rothschild giraffe already at the park.

Port Lympne said his arrival signals the start of the reserve's breeding programme with these endangered animals.

Animal director Adrian Harland said: "We are delighted to welcome this lovely male giraffe to the reserve and to be accepted as part of this breeding programme.

"There are so few Rothschild giraffes in the wild that programmes like this one are essential."

Staff at Port Lympne, near Hythe, welcome Valentino the giraffe

Port Lympne has become part of a worldwide breeding programme designed to save the endangered species. It is estimated that fewer than 700 individuals remain in the wild.

Paul Beer, head of the giraffe section, said: "The arrival of Valentino is fantastic news. He's a good looking, healthy male and I'm hoping that the girls take a shine to him."

Visitors to the reserve will be able to see Valentino exploring his new surroundings on The African Experience - 100 acres of land, alive with African animals including black rhino, zebra, wildebeest and ostrich.

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