The birth of a rare okapi - an unusual African animal that is the closest-living relative to the giraffe - has been caught on CCTV cameras at Chester Zoo.
The young male, who keepers have named Usala, was born on April 30 to mum Stuma after a 14-and-a-half-month-long pregnancy. Dad is called Dicky.
In the wild the okapi can only be found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where their numbers are in decline due to habitat loss and hunting for their meat.
And with only 14 okapis in zoos in the UK, the arrival of Usala is an important boost to the breeding programme for the endangered animals.
Curator of mammals Tim Rowlands said: “Sadly okapis and their close relatives, the giraffes, continue to be forgotten giants. We tend to hear a fair bit about the threats faced by elephants and rhinos while most people think that giraffes are fine.
“This couldn’t be further from the truth. Giraffes and okapi are going through a silent extinction. We need to start sticking our necks out for these species and hopefully being able to see the amazing arrival of Usala can really draw some much needed attention to these incredibly beautiful animals.”
Keepers hope that the new calf will make its debut in the zoo’s Secret World of the Okapi exhibit, which aims to raise the profile of the species and awareness of the threats it faces, later this month.
Second oakpi born
This is only the second okapi ever born at Chester Zoo following Tafari, a female, born in 2012.
The okapi is a totally protected species under Congolese law and the species is a national symbol.
Chester Zoo supports Gilman International Conservation’s Okapi Conservation Project in the DRC where okapi live in the beautiful Ituri Forest.
The forest is home to many rare species and the project team work in difficult, often dangerous conditions to ensure okapi herds are protected.
They also give local people conservation advice and teach them why it is so important for okapi to survive into the future.