The okapi is the only living relative of the giraffe and its population in the wild is estimated to be between 10,000 and 50,000
The Oklahoma City Zoo (OKC) and Botanical Garden announced the birth of a rare, endangered male okapi born on September 7, 2022, in its okapi barn. He marks the first offspring born to mother, Kayin, 6, and father, Bosomi, 4, and the seventh okapi calf born at the Zoo, as the last born there was Kayin in 2015. The calf is currently not named.
“We are overjoyed about the arrival of Kayin’s first calf and welcoming this new generation to our okapi family,” commented Tracey Dolphin, OKC Zoo’s curator of hoofstock and primates, in an organizational release.1 “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.”
Kayin and her calf are in good health and bonding outside from the public view. The offspring was standing and nursing an hour after being born, which is critical for a newborn calf, according to zoo caretakers, in the release.1 The newborn will remain behind-the-scenes at the opaki barn as he undergoes a “nesting” phase for a few weeks, which consists of nesting in vegetation to conserve energy and focus solely on nursing and sleeping.
Bosomi, who arrived at the OKC zoo from Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kansas, in 2020, was paired with Kayin based on a recommendation with the AZA’s Species Survival Plan (SSP) for okapi.
Deemed the “ghosts of the forests,” okapis are a reclusive species native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa.1 They have unique physical features such as a velvet-like brown coat, striped legs, hindquarters, and enlarged ears. Additionally, the okapi is the only living relative of the giraffe.
Okapis are classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, with a population in the wild estimated between 10,000 and 50,000, according to the release. The species is currently decreasing mostly due to habitat loss from logging and human settlement. Additional threats include the presence of illegal armed groups around protected areas and poaching.1
Year-round visitors can support okapi conservation by donating their used electronic devices at the OKC Zoo year-round. Small electronics often contain coltan, and mining for this substance threatens okapi and other endangered species' habitats. When those donate used phones or additional electronics, the coltan from the devices is re-used and decreases the need to mine for the compound in okapi habitats.
OKC Zoo announces birth of a rare, endangered okapi calf. News release. Oklahoma City Zoo. September 14, 2022. Accessed September 15, 2022. https://www.visitokc.com/articles/post/okc-zoo-announces-birth-of-a-rare-endangered-okapi-calf