A rare and threatened species, the okapi is also known by the name “forest giraffe”. Northwest England’s leading conservationist Chester Zoo recently rejoiced as an okapi calf, born as part of its breeding programme, took its very first steps.
The calf was born to parents K’tusha and Stomp back on May 12. Now six weeks old, the newcomer has been given the name Arabi and has ventured out with encouragement from her mum. Arabi is named after a village based within the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Okapi Wildlife Reserve. The protected area in Central Africa is a location where Chester Zoo partners are tirelessly working to preserve okapis in the only country in the world where they are found in the wild.
Okapi keeper at Chester Zoo, Hannah Owens commented:
“Arabi has been bonding closely with mum K’tusha while snuggled away in her nest. Mum has been doing a fantastic job of feeding and nurturing her calf every day, and now that she has a little more confidence, Arabi decided it was time to explore the outside world.”
Okapi are renowned having an elusive nature and are native to the DRC’s dense rainforests. Today, estimates suggest that there are as few as 10,000 of the species remaining in their natural habitat. This has placed the okapi on the endangered list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which means that it currently faces an exceptionally high risk of becoming extinct.