Okapi Calf Makes Debut

CONTACT: April Spurlock

November 5, 2013

OkapiMomCalf_TMOkapi Calf Makes Debut

 The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is thrilled to announce the birth of the first ever okapi calf born at the Zoo. The male calf was born on August 26 at 9:00 a.m. to first time parents, father, Jamal and mother, Baraka. The baby spent the last couple of months behind the scenes bonding with his mother and familiarizing himself with his new home. Guests can now view the okapi calf out in his habitat from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, weather permitting.

The Los Angeles Zoo received its first okapi in the history of the Zoo in June 2005 after trying to obtain one for over 20 years. Jamal, then 10 years old, came to the Zoo from Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. The Zoo’s long-term goal of obtaining a pair for breeding was finally achieved in September 2010 when a female, Baraka, arrived from Denver Zoo.

While some guests may confuse this shy, secretive animal with a zebra due to the brilliant black and white striped patterns on its front and hind legs, it is actually the closest living relative to the giraffe. Often called the “forest giraffe,” this beautiful species found in central Africa has a lustrous, velvety coat of fur, a 14-18 inch long, prehensile tongue, and as an adult stands at over six feet tall and weighs between 400-700 pounds.

“This long-awaited birth is particularly special because it’s the first okapi we’ve ever had born here at the Zoo,” said John Lewis, Los Angeles Zoo Director. “Being able to have a species like this breed in our Zoo is a real testament to the hard work of the staff and their dedication to okapi conservation.”

The Los Angeles Zoo works with The Okapi Conservation Project (OCP), a conservation group initiated in 1987 with the objective of eliciting support for the conservation of the wild okapi from individuals, foundations, and zoological institutions managing okapi around the world. The okapi is an important flagship species for a rainforest habitat that is rapidly vanishing. Over the last decade, the wild okapi population has dropped from 40,000 to 10,000, and there are currently only 85 okapi in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos.

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. For general information, call (323) 644-4200.