This 24-day-old female Okapi calf took her first stroll around her exhibit at the San Diego Zoo last week. She stepped out first thing in the morning with her mother, Safarani, who she stayed close to for most of the time. While she appeared a little tentative she was nevertheless still quite curious about her new surroundings. Okapis are naturally shy in the wild as well, relying on the thick foliage found in their environment to protect them from predators.
Born on May 19, she had up until that day been raised behind the scenes and out of public view in the Zoo's Okapi barn with her mom. The Animal Care staff report the calf is healthy and progressing well. In fact, she almost doubled her birth weight in a little over two weeks! This is the fourth calf born to Safarani and the 23rd okapi born at the San Diego Zoo.
Photo Credit: Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo
Okapis look a little like they might be related to horses or deer and yet have some stripes as if they were part zebra, but are in fact a relative of the giraffe. They are native to the Ituri Forest, a small,dense rain forest in Central Africa. The species is Near Threatened, mainly due to habitat destruction. It is believed there are currently less than 25,000 Okapis in the wild and less than 90 Okapis reside in zoos across the United States.