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02 11/02/2011

Lonely giraffe finds love in cyberspace

A lonely giraffe has found his perfect love-match thanks to an online animal dating service.

Thorn, a 10 year-old Rothschild giraffe from Chester Zoo, uncovered his dream date Dagmar, a four-year-old from Denmark, after a long search on a computerized matchmaking service - and she will arrive just in time for Valentine’s Day.

It is an internet dating story with a happy ending after a world-wide search for a mate revealed the perfect genetic pairing.
Lizzie Bowen, Senior Giraffe Keeper said: “We put his genetic details into an online database and thankfully it managed to turn out a perfect match for him.

“This species of giraffe is very rare and is on the ICUN red-list of endangered species, meaning careful breeding programmes in zoos are vital for their long-term survival. However, finding and getting together a good breeding pair, is very difficult indeed.”

Just like the digital dating services that pair up people, the database contains information on gender, age, height, weight as well a page out of most human dating sites - details of an animal’s personality.

“Dagmar has been described as being rather playful and pretty. So that should suit Thorn down to the ground,” added Lizzie.

The super-sized love story is seen as especially good news as there are now less than 670 Rothschild giraffes left in the wild, following the loss of their traditional homeland in Kenya and Uganda. And Chester Zoo has enjoyed success in breeding the species with baby Tula, who weighed in at 56kgs, being born in November last year.

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