Endangered Okapi Born to First-Time Mom at Oklahoma City Zoo: ‘We Are Overjoyed’

The male okapi calf and his mother, Kayin, are doing well following the baby animal’s September 7 birth at the Oklahoma City Zoo

OKC Zoo okapi mom, Kayin, and her male calf

The Oklahoma City Zoo (OKC Zoo) has a new okapi resident.

On Wednesday, the Oklahoma zoo announced that first-time mom Kayin the okapi gave birth to a male calf on September 7.

Okapis are a rare, endangered animal often called the “ghost of the forests” in their native Democratic Republic of the Congo. The species is the giraffe’s only living relative; the zoo shared in its release about the okapi’s birth.

“We are overjoyed about the arrival of Kayin’s first calf and welcoming this new generation to our okapi family,” Tracey Dolphin, the OKC Zoo’s curator of hoofstock and primates, said in a statement. “Kayin is being a very attentive first-time mother and demonstrating exceptional maternal care. Her new calf is healthy and strong and meeting his milestones including nursing and bonding with mom.”

OKC Zoo male okapi calf born Sept 7 2022

The OKC Zoo has yet to reveal the calf’s name. His dad, who is also a first-time parent, is named Bosomi. Kayin and Bosomi’s new baby is the seventh okapi born at the OKC Zoo. The last okapi birth at the facility occurred in 2015.

The new parents are among 88 okapis being cared for among 29 Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited members in North America and are participants in AZA’s Species Survival Plan®(SSP). Kayin and Bosomi were placed together as part of an SSP breeding recommendation, which was fruitful.

Kayin and her new calf are behind the scenes at the OKC Zoo, enjoying plenty of bonding time and rest before meeting the public. Animal lovers won’t be able to meet the new arrival for several weeks because the young animal is entering his “nesting phase.”

OKC Zoo male okapi calf born Sept 7 2022

According to the OKC Zoo, young okapis spend several weeks nestled in vegetation, conserving their energy, primarily only nursing and sleeping. The zoo will continue to provide information about the calf’s progress on its social media channels.

The new okapi is a vital addition to the animal’s overall species. The okapi is classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. There are an estimated 10,000 to 50,000 okapis left in the wild. The animals are threatened by habitat loss resulting from logging and human settlement, poaching, and the presence of illegal armed groups around protected areas.