By Hayley Pugh
A giraffe with a bizarre wonky face that makes it looks like its gurning has survived in the wild – despite a few strange looks from its friends.
The giraffe, spotted in Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa, has a deformed snout giving her a permanent droopy mouth and bemused expression.
It’s thought her unusual appearance could be the result of her falling from a great height after being born, as many baby giraffes are injured during birth.
But despite her shaky start in life the giraffe appears to be thriving in the wild and is now even a mum to two calves.
Photographer, Soula Christos, spotted the giraffe, which she affectionately calls Sophie, during two trips to the park.
The amateur photographer, from Johannesburg, is a frequent visitor and speaking of her first visit, she said: “It was a warm day and a herd of giraffe had come to suck on a salt lick that was provided for supplementary essential mineral nutrients.
“I noticed a giraffe was reticent in partaking of the much enjoyed salt lick and kept her distance, a little way from the other giraffes.
“She seemed keen to lick on the salt block, but it appeared as if the other giraffes were not giving her an opportunity to lick.
“It was then that I noticed her deformed snout and took great pity on her, concerned about her chance of survival.
“I consoled myself with the fact that she did not look undernourished and had successfully reached adulthood.
“As her jaw does not close properly, she constantly drools and I was also concerned about her dehydrating.
“There is a possibility of her being born that way or more likely, she could have been injured somehow, possibly even at birth, as the mothers give birth standing up and there is a fair drop to the ground. It is not uncommon for them to be injured at birth.
“She was not interacting closely with the herd and stood behind them, away from the public eye and seemed to lack confidence.”
During her second visit to the park, Soula spotted two young giraffes alongside Sophie and realised she had been pregnant when the first set of pictures were taken.
She said: “I was elated to see the giraffe with the skew snout, but this time she had two young giraffes alongside her.
“She was confident and looked healthy and strong and was watching the two young ones closely.
“Giraffes usually only have one baby at a time, so this was a rare sighting. The calves were playful, healthy and confident, although vigilant, which is very normal for animals in the wild.
“The cow was interacting normally with the rest of the herd and was clearly doing well.
“The calves were normal and healthy. They were drinking water, interacting with the herd and staying close to mum.
“I believe that the cow’s deformity has not prejudiced her survival and that she stands as good a chance as any other giraffe in the wild.”