When a new baby animal is born, it’s always an exciting day, especially if they’re from an endangered species. Each new birth is a significant step toward ensuring their survival and avoiding extinction.
A baby okapi calf was recently born at one zoo, which is being celebrated as a sign of hope for an endangered species.
The rare, endangered okapi calf was born in the early hours of September 7, according to the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden.
It is the zoo’s seventh okapi birth and the first since 2015. It is also the first child of Kayin, 6, and her friend Bosomi, 4.
Behind the scenes, the newborn calf, a male, is bonding with his mother. The newborn was examined by zoo veterinarians and found to be in good health, weighing nearly 57 pounds.
Kayin, the new mother, is also in good health and is reportedly doing an excellent job caring for her children.
In a press release, Tracey Dolphin, OKC Zoo’s curator of hoofstock and primates, said, “We are overjoyed about the arrival of Kayin’s first calf and welcoming this new generation to our okapi family,”
“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, also known as the “forest giraffe” or “zebra giraffe,” is a mammal native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s northeast. They have a predominantly brown coat, but their legs and hindquarters are distinguished by zebra-like stripes.
While they resemble zebras, they are most closely related to giraffes—in fact, they are the giraffe’s only living relative.
They’re one-of-a-kind and beautiful animals, but they’re also endangered. According to the IUCN Red List, the Okapi is a critically endangered species, with only 10,000 to 50,000 remaining in the wild and a declining population. Illegal hunting, forest loss, and human encroachment are among the threats they face.
According to a press release, the OKC Zoo is a member of 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.” The program recommended Kayin and Bosomi for mating.
The newborn calf has no name yet and will remain hidden for the next few weeks as he enters a “nesting phase” and bonds with his mother.
But, eventually, this adorable newborn okapi will make his public debut, hopefully inspiring more people to care about the conservation of this critically endangered species.
The zoo shared a surprising way that the average person can help save the okapi in their press release: recycling their old electronics. Coltan is commonly found in small electronics, and mining for coltan endangers okapi and other endangered species.
People can reduce the need for coltan mining in okapi habitats by donating their used electronic devices because the coltan can be reused.