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Brookfield Zoo, in Chicago, Illinois, is excited to share photos of ‘Will’, a male Okapi born at the zoo on April 21. Born to first-time mom, ‘Augusta K.’, Will is currently behind the scenes, but he can be seen via a live video feed that is set up in the zoo’s “Habitat Africa! The Forest”. 



4_11289439_10153371363684170_1953671532691818883_oPhoto Credits: Brookfield Zoo

During Will’s first few months of life, he will spend the majority of his time in an indoor nesting area. In the wild, a mother Okapi leaves her calf at a protected nesting site, to keep it hidden from predators. She returns only to allow the calf to nurse. Once Will is more active, at about 3 months old, guests will be able to see him exploring his outdoor habitat with Augusta.

Brookfield Zoo was the site of the first Okapi birth in North America in 1959 and has had 27 successful births, including this newest addition.

The Okapi, also known as the “forest giraffe”, is a rare hoofed mammal, native to the dense Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo. American and European scientists did not discover the species until the early 1900s. Because of the Okapi’s elusiveness, little has been known about their behavior in the wild, including how they raise their calves. The Chicago Zoological Society, which operates the Brookfield Zoo, has been a leader in gathering information on mother-calf relationships and calf development. This information has been instrumental in developing husbandry methods to help Okapi mothers raise their calves successfully.

Population numbers of Okapi, in the wild, have been declining and are predicted to continue on this downward trend due to habitat loss, human settlement, mining, war and political instability in these animals’ region, and the bushmeat trade. A global initiative formed in 2013 is helping to attract and strengthen international support for the species, and its closest relative: the giraffe, by providing an official forum to support the implementation of much-needed conservation strategies. 

Visit to learn how to help with Okapi conservation.

More great photos, below the fold!