In the Netherlands, Rotterdam Zoo’s Okapi M'buti gave birth to a baby on Sunday November 21 at 12:15 pm. Mother and baby are doing well. M'buti is an experienced mother, this is her third baby. The father is Ngwani. The little one will remain in the stable for the next few weeks. Okapis are altricial, meaning they mature after birth with the aid of their parents. Just like in the wild, the mother leaves her young in a safe place and returns only to nurse. At first, okapi calves spend their days mostly sleeping and drinking. Visitors will soon be able to peek into the nursery via webcam.
Conservationists are celebrating the birth of a rare baby okapi at Chester Zoo.
The female calf, born to mum K’tusha (7) and dad Stomp (17), arrived safely following a 14-month-long pregnancy.
The zoo’s CCTV cameras captured the calf’s first wobbly steps as she was gently encouraged to her feet by mum, shortly after birth. Now, the shy new arrival has stepped outside for the first time after spending the first few weeks of life snuggled up in a cosy nest.
Zookeepers have named the adorable youngster ‘Nia Nia’ in homage to a small village that is in the centre of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, a place where the zoo’s field partners are based, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – the only country in the world where okapis are found in the wild.
Oni the okapi, who featured in the first episode of last week’s ITV documentary, London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year - has delighted zookeepers at the iconic zoo by giving birth to a healthy baby girl.
The second-time mum, whose lockdown pregnancy took centre stage in Thursday’s episode, went into labour late on Sunday 20 September before giving birth to the adorable calf – given the name ‘Ede’ by zookeepers – the following morning.
After spotting that Oni was in labour, dedicated keepers kept a watchful eye overnight on CCTV - rejoicing when tiny hooves and stripy legs began to emerge following a 12-hour vigil. The wide-eyed calf took its first wobbly steps minutes later and was tottering around confidently soon after.
ZSL okapi keeper Gemma Metcalf said: “Like all okapis, Oni had a long pregnancy - close to 16 months - so we’ve been excitedly waiting for Ede for a long time.
“As viewers saw last week, her lockdown pregnancy posed some logistical challenges for our team, but despite the Zoo being closed we remained by her side to make sure she had the highest standard of care throughout her third trimester - we’re delighted that both mother and baby are now doing so well.”
Episode 1 of the acclaimed documentary saw zookeepers and vets come together over Microsoft Teams to plan and perform a vital ultrasound on Oni during lockdown, while ensuring everyone involved remained two metres apart – coincidentally the length of an okapi.
“Oni has always been a star in our eyes, but while she’s currently shining on screen she’s also excelling off-screen - at being a brilliant mum.
“Ede is already a feisty young calf and has been bouncing happily around the stables, but Oni is keeping her in their cosy indoor dens until she feels Ede is ready to explore their lush outdoor paddocks - we can’t wait for our visitors to see the newest addition to the zoo family.”
Ede’s birth is exciting news for London’s zoo, but even more important for the global breeding programme for the species, which ensures a healthy population of okapi in zoos across the world. Okapi, found only in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, are classified as Endangered by the IUCN, with their survival threatened by habitat loss and hunting.
Episode 1 of London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year is available to watch on the ITV Hub now, with episode 2 scheduled for broadcast on Thursday 1 October.
ZSL London Zoo reopened to the public on Monday 15 June after an unprecedented three months of closure due to the coronavirus lockdown. The loss of income put the charity zoo under huge financial pressure as they continued to provide the highest level of care for their animals. Now open to limited numbers only, ZSL, the international conservation charity behind the Zoo, is calling on the public to help ensure they stay open by booking a ticket, joining as a member or donating to ZSL at www.zsl.org
Marwell Zoo is celebrating the arrival of an endangered Okapi calf - and it's a girl!
Te female calf has been named Niari, which means 'rare' in an African language. It is also the name of a region within the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Okapis are found.
First-time mother Daphne and her calf are both doing well, and they are bonding in a behind-the-scenes habitat.
Animal keeper Phil Robbins said, “We know guests are desperate to see the pair, but we want to make sure Daphne and Niari enjoy some peace and quiet, as this is essential in the first few weeks of the nesting period.”
“Okapis are very shy animals. As such, we prefer to keep Okapi dams and calves in an isolated environment to reduce noise and stress levels,” he added.
Okapis give birth to a single calf after a 14-month gestation period. An Okapi calf can be on its feet and suckling within half an hour of being born. In the wild, the mother will leave her calf in a hiding place to nest, returning regularly to allow the calf to nurse.
Only when they are 30-40 days old do Okapi calves defecate for the first time. This unique adaptation may keep predators from sniffing out the hidden newborn until the calf has grown and gained strength.
Okapis are relatives of Giraffes and are found only in the rain forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Okapis as Endangered due to illegal mining, logging, and human settlement, which degrades their forest habitat. Okapis are also hunted for bushmeat by local people. Armed conflicts in the region have inhibited conservation actions.
See more photos of the Okapi calf below.
Conservationists at Chester Zoo have celebrated an unprecedented number of births in 2018, including some of the world’s rarest and most at-risk species.
Adorable cub Kyra was the first Sun Bear to be born in the UK. Her birth was caught on the zoo’s CCTV cameras and people around the globe watched Kyra’s first moments with her mom. Kyra’s parents, Milli and Toni, were both rescued from poachers in Cambodia.
Conservationists estimate that less than 1,000 Sun Bears remain in the wild across Southeast Asia. Deforestation and commercial hunting for their body parts have decimated their numbers.
Critically endangered Western Chimpanzee Stevie was the first of her kind to be born at Chester Zoo in nearly 10 years.
Stevie’s birth followed a scientific project, spanning several years, which carefully assessed the genetics of all Chimpanzees in zoos across Europe. The study confirmed that the troop of Chimps at Chester Zoo is the highly-threatened West African subspecies – one of the rarest in the world – establishing them as a critically important breeding population. It is estimated that as few as 18,000 West African Chimpanzees now remain in the wild.
After an unusually long pregnancy believed to have lasted 25 months, Asian Elephant Thi Hi Way gave birth to a healthy male calf, who keepers named Anjan.
A major Chester Zoo project in Assam, northern India, has successfully found ways to eliminate conflict between local communities and the nearby Asian Elephant population, offering a blueprint for the future conservation of the species.
Greater One-horned Rhino
The momentous birth of Greater One-horned Rhino calf Akeno, born to mom Asha, was captured on CCTV cameras at the zoo.
Keepers watched as Asha delivered her calf safely onto to soft bedding after a 16-month-long gestation and 20-minute labor.
At one stage, the Greater One-horned Rhino was hunted almost to extinction and less than 200 survived in the wild. Thankfully, steps to protect the Rhinos were taken just in time and today there are around 3,500 in India and Nepal.
A rare Okapi calf named Semuliki arrived to first-time parents K’tusha and Stomp. The Okapi is found only deep in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo and its highly secretive nature contributed to it being completely unknown to science until 1901.
Despite being a national symbol and protected under Congolese law, Okapi populations declined in the wild by nearly 50% over the past two decades and the species is now listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
A clutch of rare baby Bell’s Anglehead Lizards – also known as Borneo Forest Dragons – hatched at the zoo, helping conservationists uncover more about the species’ breeding patterns, life cycle and habits.
The Lizards’ wild south Asian habitat however, is being decimated to make way for unsustainable palm oil plantations – a threat which is pushing many species in the region to the very edge of existence.
The birth of a tiny Silvery Gibbon astonished visitors to the zoo who were able to admire the infant just minutes after its birth.
Conservationists hailed the arrival of this highly endangered primate, with just 4,000 of its kind now remaining on the island of Java, Indonesia, where the species is now listed as endangered by the IUCN.
Keepers were tickled pink by the arrival of 21 Flamingo chicks. Each of the fluffy newcomers was carefully hand fed by the zoo’s bird experts four times a day for five weeks until they were developed enough to fully feed for themselves.
Flamingo chicks are white or grey in color when they first hatch, resembling little balls of cotton wool, and begin to develop their famous pink plumage at around six months old.
The first set of Babirusa triplets were born at the zoo, a huge boost to the species which has experienced a recent population crash on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Once considered fairly common, the rapid decline comes as result of hunting for their meat and habitat loss, which has seen Babirusas disappear from many parts of the island.
Eastern Black Rhino
The arrival of Jumaane, a rare Eastern Black Rhino calf, left a handful of lucky zoo visitors in shock as his birth took place right in front of them.
Conservationists now estimate that fewer than 650 Eastern Black Rhino remain across Africa – a staggeringly low number driven by an increase in poaching to meet demand for rhino horn, which supplies the traditional Asian medicine market.
The birth of Jumaane is another vital boost to the Europe-wide breeding program which is crucial for the conservation of this critically endangered species.
During the recent Labor Day holiday, the Denver Zoo welcomed the births of a female Cape Buffalo named ‘Poncho’ and a rare, endangered male Okapi calf named ‘Romakari’.
Both calves are reported to be healthy and thriving under the protective care of their mothers. The Zoo’s animal care and veterinary staff are also closely monitoring them.
Poncho was born on the morning of September 3 to mom, Rain. She is the second Cape Buffalo calf to be born at Denver Zoo in recent months. Cape Buffalo are found in southern and eastern Africa and are known for being particularly territorial, protective and sizeable, with males weighing as much as 2,000 lbs. Poncho is already spending the majority of her time in the herd’s outdoor habitat and is often easily viewable to visitors.
Meanwhile, Romakari was born on the afternoon of September 2 to mom, Almasi. He is currently being kept behind the scenes, where he will likely remain for at least a month until keepers are confident he’ll follow Almasi outdoors. Okapis look a like a cross between a Zebra and Giraffe with long necks, reddish bodies, black-and-white striped legs, and long, purple prehensile tongues.
Okapi are native only to the Ituri Forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo and are listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, primarily due to logging, human settlement and hunting.
Romakari is the eighth Okapi calf born at Denver Zoo and, like Poncho, the second of his species to be born at the Zoo in recent months.
ZooTampa at Lowry Park welcomed a female Okapi calf on August 21. The calf was born to parents Betty and Zach who arrived at the zoo in 2006 and are part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a program designed to create sustainable, genetically diverse populations of rare animals. The baby Okapi’s birth draws much-needed attention to this little-known, endangered species.
Betty’s prenatal care included regular ultrasounds, a high-calorie diet and, and for the first time in this species, a milk-testing method used in Horses and Rhinos to predict Betty’s calving date.
“By increasing Betty’s prenatal care, we saw physical changes that predicted calving,” Dr. Ray Ball, D.V.M., vice president of medical sciences and senior veterinarian at ZooTampa said. “This included a dramatic change in her mammary glands and her hindquarters getting softer in preparation for the birth. The milk sampling also allowed us to determine her milk was good quality and helped us evaluate Betty’s overall health.”
Although Okapi are shy by nature, Betty is quite comfortable with zookeepers and allowed them to collect milk samples used in the testing. Zookeepers often build strong bonds with the animals they care for which enables higher quality of care for each individual animal.
Okapi (pronounced oh-COP-ee) are the only living relatives of Giraffes and are found only in the remote Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Studying Okapi is a challenge due to their remote location and ongoing conflict in the region.
Their zebra-striped legs provide camouflage within the forest’s dense greenery. “As a natural defense against predators, Okapi mothers hide their calves away in nests. The calf will spend its time in the nest leaving only to nurse,” said Chris Massaro, General Curator at ZooTampa at Lowry Park.
Conservationists estimate that 10,000 – 35,000 Okapi live within protected reserves in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Due to human encroachment and hunting, Okapi numbers are declining. The International Union for the Conservation of nature (IUCN) lists Okapi as Endangered.
ZooTampa participates in the Okapi Conservation Project, an international effort to protect the species from extinction, as part of its mission to protect and conserve endangered and threatened wildlife.
The Los Angeles Zoo is excited to announce the birth of its first-ever female Okapi calf.
The calf was born on November 10, 2017 and is the second offspring for 14-year-old mother, Opey, and the first for three-year-old father, Jackson. The couple was paired together as part of an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) program with the goal of increasing the Okapi population, which is rapidly declining in the wild. The yet-to-be-named calf spent the first couple of months, behind the scenes, bonding with mother and familiarizing herself with her new home and the animal care staff.
"I am thrilled to welcome this new Angeleno into the world, and congratulate the staff at the Los Angeles Zoo, and her mom, Opey, on the birth of this Okapi calf," said District 4 Councilmember David Ryu. "This rare and beautiful animal is a testament to the Los Angeles Zoo’s incredible work caring for and fostering endangered animals."
The Los Angeles Zoo contributes funds to The Okapi Conservation Project (OCP), a conservation group initiated in 1987 with the objective of eliciting support for the conservation of wild Okapi from individuals, foundations, and zoological institutions managing Okapi around the world. The Okapi is an important flagship species for the rainforest habitat that is rapidly vanishing due to expansion of human settlement, deforestation, and forest degradation. Over the last decade, the wild Okapi population has dropped and there are estimated to be between 10,000 and 50,000 left in the wild. There are currently close to 100 Okapi in U.S. AZA-accredited facilities.
“There was a time not so long ago when having Okapis in a Zoo was extraordinarily rare,” said Josh Sisk, Curator of Mammals at the Los Angeles Zoo. “But, due to Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs being so proactive and being able to breed these animals in Zoos, the captive population is doing extremely well. This is just one example of how important zoos are for helping sustain such an endangered species. By guests being able to see an Okapi in a Zoo, it starts a conversation about how we can save this species and their habitat in the wild.”
Native to central Africa, the Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), also known as the “forest giraffe”, this reclusive species is rarely seen in the wild and was discovered by Europeans in 1901. Because of their naturally shy nature and inclination to live deep in the dense forest, researchers and people passing through the area rarely spot an Okapi in its native habitat. Observing this beautiful animal in a Zoological setting is most likely a person’s only opportunity to get up close to an Okapi in their lifetime.
While some guests may confuse this shy, solitary animal with a zebra due to the brilliant black and white striped patterns on its front and hind legs; it is actually the closest living relative to the giraffe. The markings act as a kind of “follow me” sign so that offspring can stay close to their mothers in the dark central African forests they inhabit. The thick coat that covers most of the Okapi’s body is velvety and very oily. The adult has a 14-18 inch long, prehensile tongue, stands at over six feet tall, and weighs between 400-700 pounds.
Guests can now view the female calf and her mother out in their habitat daily, weather permitting. The female calf brings the Zoo’s Okapi group to four, including mother Opey, father Jackson, and a four-year-old male Okapi born in August 2013 named Berani. Berani was the first calf ever born at the L.A. Zoo since the species was added to the Zoo’s collection in 2005.
Zookeepers at ZSL London Zoo have named their new Okapi calf, “Meghan”, in honor of Prince Harry’s fiancée, Meghan Markle.
The name is particularly fitting since Okapis were first brought to the world’s attention in 1901 by another Harry - ZSL fellow, Sir Harry Johnstone.
Zookeeper, Gemma Metcalf said, “A new birth is always cause for celebration, but Meghan’s important arrival is also a great opportunity to draw attention to the Okapi, which is an extremely endangered species.”
After a 14-month gestation, it was a relatively speedy birth for first-time mum, Oni. The youngster emerged in just over half an hour on December 9, 2017. It wasn’t long before keepers, who were watching on camera from the next room, saw the newborn rise up to take her first tentative steps towards mum for a feed.
Gemma continued, “We’re very pleased with how mother and baby are doing. Oni is being very attentive, making sure she regularly licks her clean and keeping a watchful eye over Meghan as she sleeps.”
An important addition to the Zoo family, Meghan is already a firm favorite among visitors. To find out more about Okapis and the 18,000 other incredible residents at ZSL London Zoo visit: www.zsl.org
The Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), also known as the ‘forest giraffe’ or ‘zebra giraffe’, is an artiodactyl mammal native to the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Although the species bears striped markings similar to zebras, it is most closely related to the giraffe.
They are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Major threats include habitat loss due to logging and human settlement. Extensive hunting for bushmeat and skin and illegal mining have also led to a decline in populations.
Denver Zoo welcomed a rare baby Okapi on December 4. The male calf, named Forest, was born to mother Kalispell and weighs just under 40 pounds. The calf is only the seventh birth of this species at the Zoo.
“Shortly after he was born, Zoo staff noticed that Forest was unable to stand and was therefore unable to nurse,” said Brian Aucone, Senior Vice President for Animal Sciences. Forest’s blood work showed that had not received vital antibodies from his mother and that he needed a plasma transfusion. The team asked the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to overnight plasma for the new calf.
“We are very proud of the training that allows us to do voluntary blood draws with our Okapi and other species,” said Patty Peters, Vice President Community Relations at Columbus Zoo. “We all want to see Forest healthy and are thankful we could give aid in this way.”
Forest’s plasma transfusion was successful, and he is now strong enough to nurse on his own. He will remain behind the scenes for several weeks as he continues to develop and is prepared to step outside on warm winter days.
Forest is the second calf for both of his parents. Sekele, Forest’s father, was born in June 2009 at San Diego Zoo and arrived at Denver Zoo in November 2010. Kalispell (Kali, for short) was born at Denver Zoo in June 2009. Sekele and Kali were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Their first calf, Jabari, was born at Denver Zoo in February 2014. In 2016, he moved to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo by recommendation of SSP.
Okapis are the only living relative of Giraffes. In addition to a long neck, Okapis have a reddish coat, black-and-white striped legs and a 12-inch-long, purple prehensile tongue. Adult Okapis weigh 500 to 700 pounds and stand about five feet tall at the shoulder. Females are generally larger than males. Okapis’ gestation period is 14 to 15 months.
Native only to the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Okapis are seriously threatened by political unrest in their native range. Population estimates are difficult to determine because the forest is so dense, but experts believe there are between 10,000 and 50,000 individuals, and their numbers are declining. Okapis are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Additional threats come from habitat loss and hunting.
This rare species was first discovered only about 100 years ago. Very little is known about the behavior of the Okapi in its native land due to its shy, elusive nature. Much of what is known has been learned in zoos during the past 45 years.