It’s always an exciting day when a new baby animal is born, especially when they’re part of an endangered species. Each new birth is a major step towards ensuring their survival and preventing extinction.
Recently, one zoo welcomed to the world a baby okapi calf, in what is being celebrated as a sign of hope for an endangered species.
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden recently announced that the rare, endangered okapi calf was born in the early hours of September 7.
It is the seventh okapi born at the zoo, and the first since 2015. It is also the first offspring of mom Kayin, 6, and her mate Bosomi, 4.
The newborn calf, a male, is now bonding with his mom behind the scenes. Zoo veterinarians checked on the newborn, and reported he was in good health, weighing nearly 57 pounds.
New mom Kayin is also in good health, and reportedly doing a great job caring for her young.
“We are overjoyed about the arrival of Kayin’s first calf and welcoming this new generation to our okapi family,” said Tracey Dolphin, OKC Zoo’s curator of hoofstock and primates, in a press release.
“Kayin is being a very attentive first-time mother and demonstrating exceptional maternal care. Her new calf is healthy and strong, and meeting his milestones including nursing and bonding with mom.”
The okapi — sometimes also known as the “forest giraffe” or the “zebra giraffe” — is a mammal native to the northeast Democratic Republic of the Congo. They have a primarily brown coat but their legs and hindquarters are distinguished by stripes like those of a zebra.
But while they look like zebras, they’re actually most closely related to the giraffe — in fact, they’re the giraffe’s only living relative.
They’re a unique and beautiful animal — but sadly they’re also vulnerable to extinction. According to the IUCN Red List, the okapi is an endangered species, with only between 10,000 and 50,000 left in the wild and decreasing in population. Their threats include illegal hunting, forest loss and human encroachment.
According to their press release, the OKC Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for okapis, “contributing to the conservation of this species and helping ensure the sustainability of okapi populations for future generations.” Kayin and Bosomi were recommended for mating under the program.
The newborn calf doesn’t have a name yet and will remain behind-the-scenes for the next few weeks, as he enters a “nesting phase” and continues to bond with mom.
But eventually this beautiful newborn okapi will make his debut, and hopefully inspire more people to care about the conservation of this endangered species.
In their press release, the zoo shared a surprising way the average person can help save the okapi: recycling their old electronics. Small electronics often contain coltan, and mining for coltan threatens okapi and other endangered species.
By donating their used electronic devices, people can reduce the need for coltan mining in okapi habitats because the coltan can be reused.
What a beautiful newborn okapi, and a great sign of hope for this endangered species!
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