Okapis are incredibly rare. In the wild they are only found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where they are declining as a result of hunting and habitat loss. Curator of mammals, Tim Rowlands said, “Sadly okapis and their close relative, the giraffes, continue to be forgotten giants. We tend to hear a fair bit about the threats faced by elephants and rhinos while most people think that giraffes are fine. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Giraffes and okapi are going through a silent extinction. We need to start sticking our necks out for these species and hopefully being able to see the amazing arrival of Usala can really draw some much needed attention to these incredibly beautiful animals.”
Even in zoos they are incredibly rare with just 14 okapis held across the United Kingdom. Usala provides an important boost to the breeding program. He is one of just two okapi calves ever to born at Chester Zoo.
“Keepers hope that the new calf will make its debut in the zoo’s Secret World of the Okapi exhibit, which aims to raise the profile of the species and awareness of the threats it faces, later this month,” added Rowlands.
Photo credit: Chester Zoo