Oklahoma City Zoo's Okapi calf may opt to hide out for a bit

CARRIE COPPERNOLL Published: August 27, 2009
A rare okapi has been born at the Oklahoma City Zoo, officials announced Wednesday.

The calf was born Aug. 15, becoming one of fewer than 100 okapis in captivity in accredited zoos nationwide, according to the Oklahoma City Zoo. The animals can be seen at only 24 zoos in the country. The Oklahoma City Zoo is home to four okapis — the calf, its parents and an additional female.

The hoofed animals are dark in color with distinct, zebra-like stripes on their legs. Though shorter, they are most closely related to the giraffe, according to the zoo.

The okapi has yet to be named. He is the fourth okapi born at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

The calf has access to the outdoor exhibit area, though he rarely leaves the barn. When he is outdoors, he is often hidden in a nest. Okapis spend time in a nest built of leaves and brush during their first few months, said Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino, director of veterinary services.

The birth of the calf was closely monitored by zoo staff, spokeswoman Tara Henson said. Video cameras were installed in the okapi barn so officials could monitor the mother and her progress throughout the pregnancy. The cameras will be used while the calf is young.

→Pronunciation: oh-COP-ee.

→Habitat: Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

→Population: Fewer than 100 in U.S. captivity and about 10,000 in the wild.

→Nickname: Forest Giraffes.

→Diet: Tree leaves and other greens they strip from branches with their long, giraffe-like tongues.

→Life span: About 25 years.

→Height: About 5 feet.

→Weight: About 550 pounds for males and about 630 pounds for females. The calf born at the Oklahoma City Zoo weighed 48 pounds at birth.

→Fun fact: The okapi is thought to be the only animal able to clean its ears with its tongue.

Sources: Oklahoma City Zoo, San Diego Zoo

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