Audubon Species Survival Center Welcome Baby Okapi on World Okapi Day

Audubon Species

Survival Center

Welcome Baby Okapi

on World Okapi Day

Image: Audubon Species Survival Center

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: October 19, 2022 10:45 pm

Audubon Nature Institute officials have announced the first birth of an okapi at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center. The announcement comes on world okapi day, celebrated on October 18 2022 by the IUCN to raise awareness of these unique animals.

The okapi was first described for western science in 1901, having remained hidden in the forest. Since then scientists have produced grim estimates of their population leading to the species being listed as endangered. The birth of this calf contributes to the conservation of the species through the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for okapi overseen by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Audubon joined the program in 2017.

This new addition to the okapi herd was welcomed on September 28 2022 at the end of a 15 month pregnancy, to first time mother Asili. The father is 13 year old, Kaikari.

"Asili has proven to be a wonderful, protective and attentive first-time mom," said Michelle Hatwood, general curator of the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center. "We hope this is the first of many okapi births at the Species Survival Center." 

Six okapi are housed at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center where 26 acres have been dedicated to conservation efforts for the species.

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In the wild okapi are restricted to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their solitary nature and secretive habitats have helped them to avoid detection by scientists.

Scientists have not formed a full picture of the wild okapi population but estimates suggest they have fallen by 20% in recent years. They face continuing threats from  illegal hunting, mining, human encroachment, and loss of their habitat due to deforestation.

Resembling a cross between a deer and a zebra, the okapi is the closest relative of the giraffe with their long neck showing some of this family resemblance. They are nicknamed the "forest giraffe.'' In their native habitat this species has been observed feeding on riverbed clay and even bat excrement for the nutrients and minerals which they can provide.

"The birth of this calf is part of the continuing success story of our Species Survival Center," said Ron Forman, Audubon Nature Institute's President and CEO. "These types of births are the reason we built the Species Survival Center. We consider it an honor and responsibility to help prevent these amazing animals from becoming extinct. And we are delighted to celebrate this birth as such a significant win in our work."  

Since opening in 1993 the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center has been contributing to the conservation of a range of species including whooping cranes, African wildcats, Mississippi sandhill cranes, giraffe, clouded leopards, Mexican grey wolves, red wolves, bongo antelope, and eland.

Our Favourite Okapi Fact

Okapis communicate with one another using a low frequency sound which is unable to be heard by predators. This will help the mother and calf to hide from predators.

Okapi (Okapi johnstoni)

Learn more about the Okapi!

Hiding in the forest unknown to western science till 1901 the okapi looks like a curious mix between zebra and giraffe. Uncover their secrets in our fact file.

Image: Audubon Species Survival Center

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