A DAIRY farmer thought someone was telling her a tall tale when she got a delivery order for a baby giraffe.

The unusual request came from the zoo at Flamingo Land, near Malton, North Yorkshire, which needs about 90 litres of milk a week to nurse the 6ft 5in animal.

The calf was born on April 24, but was rejected by his mother within hours. He is now being bottle fed by keepers.

To supply the huge milk order over the next year, zoo staff got in touch with Sue Archer, who runs a farm with 350 Jersey cows at Walworth Gate, near Darlington.

"It's definitely the strangest order we have ever had," said Mrs Archer, who also runs the Archer's Jersey Dairy Ice Cream company.

"They need lots of full fat milk so he can build up his strength, and they were looking for a local company, so we got the call.

"We went down to visit him at the weekend and he is absolutely gorgeous. He's all velvety, with beautiful eyes and he's really friendly because he is used to the attention.

"We've taken lots of pictures of him, and they have told us we can visit him whenever we like.

"They've got a live webcam in his pen so people can see how he is getting on, and we are hoping to get a link to that on our website."

The giraffe has not been named yet, but Mrs Archer came up with a few suggestions during her visit.

"My husband is originally from Kenya and he speaks Swahili, so the zoo keepers asked me to find out the Swahili word for first born," she said.

"My husband came up with the name Kwanza, so they are going to have a think about that and maybe name him later in the week."

Head zoo-keeper Sam de Belle said: "His mum rejected him when he was about an hour old, but we are going to hand-rear him until he is a bit stronger so that he can join her again.

"She is already showing quite a lot of interest in him, so that should hopefully happen quite soon."

The calf - a Rothschild giraffe - could eventually grow to 18ft. The breed is rarely found in the wild, although herds can still be found in parts of Kenya and Uganda.

For live webcams at the zoo, visit www.flamingoland.co.u