CINCINNATI, OH (December 18, 2023) – The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is thrilled to announce the arrival of a baby okapi, a rare and endangered species, born yesterday morning to mom Kuvua and dad Kiloro. The Zoo’s vet staff will give the calf a neonatal exam later this week and the sex and weight will be revealed at that time.
“This is Kuvua’s fourth calf, and she is an amazing momma,” said Renee Carpenter, senior keeper at the Cincinnati Zoo. “She’s being attentive to the little one’s every need. The calf is strong and looks healthy. It’s also super soft and fuzzy.”
Mom and baby will continue to bond behind the scenes during the cold months. Visitors will see them in the okapi yard later this spring.
Each okapi birth is significant for the conservation of this unique species. This is the 18th okapi birth at the Cincinnati Zoo since 1989. Okapis are classified as threatened due to habitat destruction and poaching. The world population is approximately 15,000.
Okapi coloration is unique and has reddish-brown body coloration with striking horizontal black and white stripes on front and back legs – these unique markings help the offspring follow their mothers through the dense forest. Okapis are the only relative of the giraffe and resemble them in body structure, but, of course, have shorter necks. The okapi was relatively unknown to the Western world until it was formally recognized in 1902, but it has been clearly depicted for almost 2,500 years on the façade of and Apadana (at Persepolis). There is ongoing conservation work in the Congo to study the behavior and lifestyle of this elusive species.