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THE ZOO CELEBRATES OKAPI AND GIRAFFE BIRTHS - 2012

Posted by Candice Rennels on 01/30/2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                           

January 30, 2012

CONTACTS:        

Tara Henson – (405) 425-0219, O / (405) 919-9038, C / [email protected]

Candice Rennels – (405) 425-0298, O / (405) 412-6172, C / [email protected]

 

NEW TO OUR HERDS: THE OKLAHOMA CITY ZOO CELEBRATES OKAPI AND GIRAFFE BIRTHS

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden’s hoof stock herds are growing with the arrival of an okapi born on November 13, 2011 and a giraffe born on January 17, 2012. With the continuation of this unseasonably warm weather, it is possible Zoo guests will be able to see one or both of our newest additions out in their yards.

It’s a girl okapi! Nia, our rare and beautiful new okapi (pronounced oh-COP-ee) calf was born at the Zoo to mother Caroli and father Kidomo. Her name Nia is Swahili for “lustrous” or “goal”. The healthy calf weighed approximately 58 pounds at birth and is progressing as normal. This is the fifth okapi calf born at the Zoo since 1995 and the second offspring for both parents.

With approximately 98 okapis currently residing in 25 different managed care organizations, the birth of an okapi calf is a great success for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Okapi Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP is responsible for developing a plan that identifies population management goals and recommendations to ensure the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied population.  “We are thrilled about the arrival of our new okapi,” said Laura Bottaro, Curator of Mammals. “This is a very significant birth for us and the species as a whole.”

Mothers will not stray very far after giving birth, so the young okapi will remain close by until at least a few days old,  then becomes a ‘nester' for a number of months, in which it lies in vegetation. During this intensive nesting phase, the calf is incredibly efficient in the use of energy, primarily only nursing or sleeping.  Nia will have access to her outdoor yard (weather allowing) on the Zoo’s Wild Dog Row.

The illusive okapi is indigenous to the Ituri Forest of central Africa with only 10,000 or less currently in the wild. Okapis are classified as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which means that as a species they are close to qualifying or likely to qualify for the threatened category. Although they have been hunted sustainably by the local tribes, the major dangers to okapis come from loss of habitat and accidental trapping in traps set for other animals.

The only living relative of the giraffe, okapis show several marked resemblances to their much taller relatives. Okapis have similar high shoulders and sloping hindquarters, large eyes and the males of the species have skin-covered horns on their heads, just like the giraffe.

Another big arrival at the Zoo is the birth of a male giraffe on January 17, 2012. Born to parents Ellie and Bogy, the young calf has been named Sergeant Peppers and stood approximately 5’6”at birth. This is Ellie and Bogy’s second offspring together. Their first calf, Keyara was born at the Zoo on January 17, 2010, sharing her birth date with brother Sergeant Peppers.

Average gestation for a giraffe calf is approximately 15 months. Giraffes give birth while standing and unlike humans, the baby comes out hooves-first. The baby then proceeds to stand, usually within one hour after birth. In the wild, it is important for a newborn giraffe to be able to stand quickly to elude predators.

The tallest animal on earth, giraffes can grow to stand 19 feet and weigh more than 3,000 pounds. Giraffes are best known for their long necks, which have only seven vertebrae–similar to a human’s neck. This physical characteristic allows them to browse on high ranging foliage beyond the reach of competing antelopes and to watch for predators such as lions.  In the wild, giraffes can be found living in loose open herds in the savannas of Africa. Their pale buff coats are boldly marked with irregular chestnut or dark brown blotches which help to camouflage them in their surroundings. Giraffe markings are as unique as human fingerprints; no two animals display the same.

The Zoo’s regularly scheduled giraffe feedings will go on, weather permitting. However, Ellie and Sergeant Peppers will not be participating until their caregivers feel both are comfortable with the feeding platform area and crowds. Proud papa, Bogy will continue to greet guests during feedings though; he’s a big fan of browse (giraffe snacks)!

If you haven’t “herd,” big things are happening at the Zoo. Located in Oklahoma City’s Adventure District at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35 in, the Oklahoma City Zoo is recognized as Oklahoma’s #1 attraction and one of the top three family-friendly zoos in the nation. Zoo hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Buildings close at 4:45 p.m. daily. Regular admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children ages three-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Remember, Mondays are free for everyone now through February. Become a Zoo fan at http://www.facebook.com/okczoobg. To learn more about these and other happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.com.

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