Dublin Zoo has announced the birth of the second endangered okapi calf ever to be born in Ireland. The male calf was born in the early hours of July 7th, to parents Lumara (aged 7) and Kitabu (aged 14).
The calf was standing just 20 minutes after being born and suckling within hours, the zoo said, adding that he is “in excellent health” and “growing steadily in the past month”.
The first okapi born in Ireland was a female called Dalia, also born at Dublin Zoo to Lumara and Kitabu on October 31st, 2019.
Okapis are a large, hoofed animal related to the giraffe. They have a red-brown, velvety coat with distinctive black and white stripes on their back legs. Similar to giraffes, okapis have long, dark tongues.
Okapis are herbivores that eat a diet of leaves, shoots, fruit and fungi. They also eat clay and charcoal (from burnt trees) to help neutralise toxins in plants and to gain minerals.
Infant okapis spend most of their time in their nest/hide under the protection of their mother during their first two months.
Helen Clarke, team leader at Dublin Zoo said the zoo was “delighted” to welcome the new arrival.
“The species is listed as endangered so every birth is extremely important. The infant is nesting at the moment, as is typical for okapi calves, but will soon emerge to accompany his mother into their outdoor habitat,” Ms Clarke said.
“The baby is doing very well and visitors to the zoo walking through the African Plains may be lucky enough to get a glimpse of the new arrival in the coming days.”
The okapi is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to habitat loss, hunting, deforestation and civil unrest. Its natural habitat is the dense forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Dublin Zoo has supported okapi conservation since 2012, with financial contributions to support rangers and community services in and around the okapi wildlife reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The zoo is also holding a competition to name the new calf, with the winner selected by Dublin Zoo keepers to win a family day pass.
Names must be of African origin to reflect the okapi’s Democratic Republic of Congo’s origins and entries can be made at Dublinzoo.ie/competition until September 9th.