Meet the Bronx Zoo’s New Okapi (Also: What Is an Okapi?)


The Bronx Zoo has debuted its new baby okapi! What is an okapi? An okapi is a “giraffid artiodactyl mammal” native to a rainforest in the Congo, and though it kind of looks zebra-esque, it’s actually more closely related to giraffes.

The above video shows the new baby, who is the product of extremely careful animal husbandry by the Bronx Zoo.

Gothamist quotes the Wildlife Conservation Society’s account:

The average gestation for an okapi is 14.5 months. During pregnancy, vets, curators and keepers carefully monitor the development of the fetus through continued examinations. Once the expected due date nears, the female’s stall is prepared with additional bedding. Conditions are kept calm and quiet in anticipation of the birth. Closed-circuit video cameras send images to a computer in another building allowing keepers to remotely monitor the birth, maternal and calf behavior, and the frequency and duration of nursing bouts.

Upon birth, the mother and the calf are allowed time to bond. Unlike what would be normal practice for other ungulate species, a neonatal exam is not performed and the calf is not weighed because the species is very susceptible to stress.

Okapi calves are unique in that they do not defecate for four to eight weeks after they are born. In the wild, this a natural defense that limits the amount of scent that could attract predators while the mother leaves the calf to feed. Zoo-born okapis exhibit the same behavior; and early defecation can be an indicator of health complications.

They sound…delicate. The baby’s name is M’bura, and she won’t be on display when it gets cold.

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