THE latest birth to occur at West Midland Safari Park could be the first of its kind.

On the evening of August 12, one of the two green anacondas which are on show in the reptile world enclosure gave birth.

Reptile keepers were shocked, however, at the discovery as both anacondas in the collection are female and neither had been near a male.

Mark O'Shea, consultant curator of reptiles at the safari park, explained that when a female has been kept separate from a male, on rare occasions, she can produce eggs which are clones of the mother.

Mr O’Shea said: “What has occurred is known to scientists as parthenogenesis - literally Greek for virgin birth.

“This form of birth has only been reported on very rare occasions in the past, in a rattlesnake, a rainbow boa, garter snakes and a komodo dragon. This appears to be first time the process has been documented for anacondas.

“The litters or clutches are small and there is a high mortality rate and it was this process that resulted in the female anaconda at West Midland Safari Park giving birth to three live female neonates and five dead neonates.”

The three newly-born sisters are being raised behind the scenes while the mother is now back on show in the reptile world.