The captain of a Cornish cargo ship had to jump overboard to rescue a meerkat.

The animal called 'Boris' had leapt 30ft off the side of boat 'Gry Maritha' which had just arrived in port at Penzance, writes Ed Cullinane, SWNS.

The meerkat was one of two being picked up to take to Axe Valley Zoo in Axminster after arriving from the Isles of Scilly.

But three-year-old Boris - along with a second called Doris - made a break for freedom on deck.

The pair 'somehow' escaped their cage and made a break for it - only for Doris to be caught and Boris ending up in the sea.

Unfamiliar with conditions, Boris quickly panicked in the deep water and had to be rescued by Gry Maritha skipper Tom Sexton - in his boxers.

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Tom said the meerkats were being transported in a cat carrier box, but and managed to figure out how to open the door and escape.

He explained: "We had these meerkats being transported from the Isles over to Penzance.

''I think the owner originally had four of them in a sort of little petting zoo at his council house.

"Two of them were in this cat carrier style box but managed to figure out how to break out while we were sailing.

"The two of them were just running around the deck, but there were all kinds of cars and crates they kept hiding under so we decided to leave it until we got into port.

"Eventually after mooring we all got out brooms and gloves and the five of us started running around the deck trying to catch them.

"We managed to get the first one, but the second one jumped overboard. I was actually pretty impressed at how good a swimmer he was, but he seemed to be in a bit of trouble.

"I decided I'd jump in and grab him so I stripped off down to my boxers and put on some gloves to go get him, I knew they could be quite nippy.

"I was surprised how easy it was to get him though. We then put him back in his box and hoisted him back onto the deck."