Dublin Zoo is celebrating the arrival of a male okapi calf, the baby was born in the early morning of Thursday to parents Lumara (aged 7) and Kitabu (aged 14).
"Standing just 20 minutes after being born and suckling within hours, the baby is in excellent health, and he has been growing steadily in the past month," Dublin Zoo said in a statement.
This is the second okapi ever to be born in Ireland. The first, a female named Dalia also born at Dublin Zoo to parents Lumara and Kitabu was born on October 31st, 2019.
As with Dalia, Lumara has been showing "excellent maternal instincts since the very beginning. Kitabu has also been displaying great interest in the newborn’s development".
Helen Clarke, team leader at Dublin Zoo, said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome this okapi calf to Dublin Zoo. The species is listed as Endangered so every birth is extremely important. The infant is nesting at the moment, as is typical for okapi calves, but will soon emerge to accompany his mother into their outdoor habitat.”
“The baby is doing very well and visitors to the zoo walking through the African Plains may be lucky enough to get a glimpse of the new arrival in the coming days,” she added.
Okapis are a large, hoofed animal related to the giraffe. They have a red-brown, velvety coat with distinctive black and white stripes on their back legs.
Like giraffes, okapis have long, dark tongues. Okapis are herbivores (plant eaters) that eat a diet of leaves, shoots, fruit and fungi. They also eat clay and charcoal (from burnt trees) to help neutralise toxins in plants and to gain minerals.
Infant okapis spend most of their time in their nest/hide under the protection of their mother during their first two months.
The okapi is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red list (a critical indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity) due to habitat loss, hunting, deforestation and civil unrest. Their natural habitat is the dense forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa.
Dublin Zoo supports okapi conservation since 2012, with financial contributions to support rangers and community services in and around the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Okapi Wildlife Reserve monitors and protects okapi populations in the DRC.
Dublin Zoo is holding a competition to name the new calf, with the winner selected by Dublin Zoo keepers to win a family day pass.
Names must be of African origin to reflect the okapi’s Democratic Republic of Congo origins.
You can enter at www.dublinzoo.ie/competition, and the winner will be announced on Dublin Zoo’s social channels when the competition closes on September 9th.