What's black and white and reddish-brown all over? Brookfield Zoo's latest addition, a rare Okapi calf.
On April 27, Brookfield Zoo welcomed the female Okapi (pronounced oh-KAH-pi) into the world, making her the 30th Okapi born at the zoo.
The unnamed female is the third baby for mother Semliki and first for father Kajeki. Born at a hefty 57 pounds, he baby is very advanced for her age, says Amy Roberts, curator of mammals at the zoo. "We weighed her today and she's already 110 pounds," Roberts said.
Though most of the Okapi calves spend their time quietly nesting off-exhibit, Roberts said this baby has been brave enough to venture outside with her mother a few times. Roberts credits Semliki for the baby's adventurous attitude. "Her mom is calm and sedate, just a really good mom. We have a lot of faith in her."
The Okapi, also known as "forest giraffes," are found only in the Ituri Forest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Even though the Okapi are protected by the central African government, the elusive animals live in remote areas and are difficult to track and protect. Roberts said the species is endangered because of habitat destruction and poaching. Little is known about their behavior in the wild.
Okapi are known for their velvety reddish-brown coat with white stripes on their hind end and front upper legs. The stripes help the Okapi blend into the forest, making them harder for predators to see. Most mistake them as part of the zebra family, though the Okapi's closest living relative is the giraffe.
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