13 May 2015

The young male, who keepers have named Usala, was born to mum Stuma after a 14-and-a-half-month-long pregnancy. Dad is called Dicky.

In the wild the okapi can only be found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where their numbers are in decline due to habitat loss and hunting for their meat.

And with only 14 okapis in zoos in the UK, the arrival of Usala is an important boost to the breeding programme for the endangered species.

Curator of mammals, Tim Rowlands said;

Sadly okapis and their close relative, the giraffes, continue to be forgotten giants. We tend to hear a fair bit about the threats faced by elephants and rhinos while most people think that giraffes are fine. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Giraffes and okapi are going through a silent extinction. We need to start sticking our necks out for these species and hopefully being able to see the amazing arrival of Usala can really draw some much needed attention to these incredibly beautiful animals.

Keepers hope that the new calf will make its debut in the zoo’s Secret World of the Okapi exhibit, which aims to riase the profile of the species and awareness of the threats it faces, later this month.

Okapi facts

  • Mum: Stuma 
  • Dad: Dicky 
  • Calf: Usala
  • Born: 30/04/2015 Info: This is only the second okapi ever born at Chester Zoo following Tafari, a female, born in 2012
  • The okapi is a totally protected species under Congolese law and the species is a national symbol
  • Okapi are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are the closest-living relatives of the giraffe and were not known to science until 1901
  • Only males have horns. Females tend to be a bit taller than males
  • A single calf is born after a 14-15 month pregnancy
  • Giraffe and okapi are the only living species in the Giraffidae family and share a number of common features, such as elongated necks and long, dark-coloured tongues (both adaptations for feeding on tree leaves). The giraffe is found in savannah regions of 21 countries across sub-Saharan Africa while okapi are restricted to the dense, lowland rainforests of central and north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)