The birth of a rare okapi calf is being celebrated by zookeepers — and its arrival will help reveal the secrets of “one of the least known and understood species on the planet,” said British news agency SWNS.
The endangered animal — also known as the forest giraffe — was born to mom K’tusha, 10, and dad Stomp, 20, on May 12 at the Chester Zoo in Upton-by-Chester, Cheshire, England.
Named Arabi, the calf has been snuggled up in a nest behind the scenes but now has taken her first tentative steps outside at six weeks old, said SWNS.
Okapi live in the dense rainforests in the DRC, where it’s estimated that fewer than 10,000 remain, said SWNS.
The species is classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) — meaning it faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
Chester Zoo and its partners say the new arrival will be considered a “vital” part of the global population, said SWNS.
Added Owens, “It didn’t take long before she was confidently stretching her legs in the sunshine. Okapis are one of the least known and understood species on the planet, so every birth is incredibly special indeed.”
Mike Jordan, animal and plant director at the zoo, added, “The arrival of this okapi calf is not only a cause for celebration but also a significant milestone in our ongoing commitment to the conservation and protection of this charismatic species.”
He said that “through our continued efforts, we hope to inspire others to join us in safeguarding these remarkable creatures and their threatened habitats,” SWNS noted.
The animals are also hunted for their meat, which is consumed locally.
The animals are also hunted for their meat, which is consumed locally, and their skins — which are highly valued on the illegal wildlife trade.
Of the 14 okapi living in conservation zoos in the United Kingdom, six are being cared for by experts at Chester Zoo, SWNS reported.
“It’s vital that new mothers bond with their babies immediately, as the survival of the calf depends upon this happening.”