Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Rare 'Forest Unicorn' Born at Chester Zoo

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: March 5, 2021 9:59 pm

okapi chester zoo

An okapi calf has been born at Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom

Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom are celebrating the birth of a rare okapi sometimes referred to as the 'forest unicorn' due to their rarity in the African rainforests they call home. The calf was a late Christmas present for the UK conservation charity being born on December 28th 2020.

Keepers have selected the name Nia Nia for the calf which was born to mom, K'tusha who has been pregnant for the last 14 months. The calf has been monitored by keepers through CCTV cameras from the moment she was born. This allowed them to capture her first wobbly steps.

Sarah Roffe, Team Manager of the okapis at the zoo, said “The birth of an okapi calf is cause for great celebration – they are incredibly rare and incredibly special. Mum K’Tusha is so far doing a wonderful job of caring for her new born. Watching her gently encourage her new baby to its feet in those precious moments shortly after her birth was a real privilege to see.

okapi chester zoo
okapi chester zoo

An okapi calf has been born at Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

The healthy calf has spent the first few weeks of her life snuggled up in a cozy nest but recently stepped outside for the first time. Another fun fact shared by the zoo is that okapi calves do not poo for the first until they are one month old.

Her name Nia Nia comes from a small village at the center of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) the only country where the okapi lives in the wild.

These animals are also the only known living relative of the giraffe.

Nia Nia comes equipped with zebra like stripes on the back legs which in the wild help okapis to blend in to the dense forest and keep them hidden from predators. This camouflage paired with impressive hearing helped the animals to remain undiscovered to western science till 1901 earning them them the nickname of 'African unicorn.'

— AD —

Despite being protected under Congolese law and acting as a symbol for this nation the population of okapi in the wild has declined 50% over two decades. This comes as a result of hunting for their meat and skin, habitat destruction and civil unrest.

Nick Davis, Deputy Curator of Mammals at the zoo, added, “These gentle creatures have been heavily targeted by poachers in recent years, mainly as a result of the illegal bushmeat trade, which is growing across nearly all of its natural range – making conservation efforts to protect these animals really difficult.

Currently the species is listed by the IUCN as endangered on their red list.

An okapi calf has been born at Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom

Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo are part of a breeding program for the species as Davis explained, "With only 76 okapis in zoos across Europe, and with sightings in the wild becoming even less common than before, every birth is therefore vital to the endangered species breeding programme. The safety-net population in progressive zoos is protecting future conservation options for the okapi, so not only is Nia Nia’s arrival an important moment for us, it’s an important moment for the species.”

They also provide support for okapi field surveys in the Semuliki National Park in Uganda on the border with the IUCN alongside partner, the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Further to this they have provided long term support for the Okapi Conservation Project that is based at the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the Ituri Forest DRC.

okapi chester zoo

An okapi calf has been born at Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom

Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Learn more about Okapis here – Okapi Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about Chester Zoo on their website – Chester Zoo

Most Popular Animal this Week


Credit: Under License

Redbubble Store.

AD

Baby Animals at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Baby Animals Ready to Greet Colombus Zoo Guests 

Red-Necked Wallaby Joey Marwell Zoo

Red-Necked Wallaby Joeys Pop Out the Pouch at Marwell Zoo 

African Lion Cubs Monarto Safari Park

Monarto Safari Park Lion Cubs Roar on to Exhibit 

We're Social. Follow Us

We share awesome animal content daily

Featured Animal

little penguin
Share via
Copy link