Cincinnati Zoo Okapi Delivers Healthy Baby Boy

Posted February 23, 2017

CINCINNATI, OH  (February 23, 2017) – The baby boom continues at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden! Eight-year-old okapi Kuvua gave birth to a healthy, sixty-pound baby boy last week and all is well in the okapi barn.

“This is Kuvua’s third calf, so she knew what to do right away.  The calf stood within an hour of birth and nursed 30 minutes later,” said Christina Gorsuch, curator of mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo. “She immediately started nuzzling and cleaning the calf.  She’s a great mom.”

The okapi animal care team picked “Moyo” as the calf’s name.  “Moyo means ‘to have heart’ in Swahili, and this calf has already shown his adventurous nature.  He is courageous and ventures around the stall on his own, so the name fits,” said Gorsuch.

Moyo and Kuvua will continue to bond behind the scenes for the next few weeks.  Visitors will see them in the okapi yard later this spring.

This is the 16th 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 marking 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.