A British conservationist has come to the rescue of more than 2,000 unwanted exotic animals after the private zoo in which they were kept was sold by a millionaire Australian property developer. David Gill, who owns a wildlife sanctuary in the Lake District of northern England, has bought the entire menagerie and is now the proud owner of a pair of endangered white rhinos, four pygmy hippos, 100 scimitar-horned oryx and more than 1,700 deer. About 200 of the most prized species are destined for a wildlife park he is building near Mareeba, in northern Queensland, which will open before Christmas. The rest, consisting mostly of the deer, are likely to stay in the Northern Territory on a separate wildlife reserve. 'It's going to be a big job accommodating them because we already have bears, tigers, lions and monkeys,' said Mr Gill, 42, a former animal nutritionist from Cumbria. 'The thought of transporting them all by road has been keeping me awake at night. They'll have to travel more than 2,000km.' The animals faced an uncertain fate after property developer Warren Anderson, from Perth, sold the private zoo he had established on a former cattle station 200km south of Darwin, in the Northern Territory, in July. Mr Anderson, a former bulldozer driver who made his fortune from building shopping centres, is one of Australia's richest men. His private collection has been at the centre of a bitter legal wrangle, with the government of the Northern Territory accusing a company controlled by Mr Anderson of abandoning the animals to starve. Since October the government has spent A$50,000 (HK$288,000) transporting hay, horse pellets and fruit to the property to ensure the animals were properly fed. Last month the government won an emergency Supreme Court injunction preventing Mr Anderson from destroying the animals. The manager of the zoo, Kevin Freeman, said Mr Anderson had told him: 'I will be bringing some big boys with some big guns and we are going to smoke the lot of them.' Mr Gill declined to say how much he had paid for the wildlife collection.