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San Antonio Zoo announces birth of baby Okapi, sometimes called the 'African Unicorn'

The male calf was born on Saturday to first-time parents Ludimi and Epulu, adding to the growing family of this elusive and endangered species.

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Zoo is excited to announce the birth of a baby Okapi to first-time parents Ludimi and Epulu, adding to the growing family of this elusive and endangered species.

The male calf was born Saturday and has generated excitement among staff, while also highlighting the zoo's commitment to conservation and wildlife preservation. They may look like a zebra, but in reality they are more closely related to a giraffe.  And their tongues grow up to 14 inches long, which helps them strip leaves from vegetation when they are eating.

Baby Boy Okapi is going to stay behind the scenes with Mom for now, but the zoo will let us know when he will make his debut on the exhibit and gets a chance to explore his habitat.  

He has to wait until the zoo's 41st Annual Zoobilation Ball on November 10 to get his Texas name  The zoo said the naming opportunity will be one of the live auction packages at the event, which is the zoo’s largest annual fundraiser.  Timothy The Hippo famously got his Texas nickname at Zoobilation Ball in 2017.

Okapis have a gestation period of 14 months, so this calf is a remarkable event. 

These super-cool creatures can stand on their own about 30 minutes after they're born, which showcases their natural adaptability and resilience. Baby okapis born in the wild are meticulously protected in nests for two months, making sure they stay safe from predators while they nurse.

"We are absolutely thrilled to welcome this adorable okapi calf into our San Antonio Zoo family," said Tim Morrow, President & CEO of San Antonio Zoo. "We invite everyone to join us in this extraordinary journey on our social platforms and soon at the zoo as we closely observe the calf's growth and development."

The birth of this okapi calf serves as a powerful reminder of the urgent need for conservation efforts. In fact, the San Antonio Zoo actively supports initiatives aimed at preserving the Congo Basin Rainforests, which are home to numerous unique plants and animals, including mountain gorillas, forest elephants, chimps, bonobos, and pygmy hippos.

Nobody knew about Okapis in the western world until the 20th century when they were officially discovered by western scientists in 1901, which is why they are known as the "African Unicorn." They face significant threats to their survival, including poaching, habitat destruction, and human encroachment on their natural habitat.

For more information, visit the San Antonio Zoo website.


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