ZooTampa welcomes rare okapi calf to the world

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Courtesy: Lowry Park Zoo

ZooTampa has a new addition to the family: an endangered okapi calf. 

Okapi are the only living relative of the giraffe family, and are typically found in remote forests in central Africa, according to zoo officials. The baby calf was born to parents, Betty and Zach, who arrived at the zoo in 2006.

The proud parents are part of the Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which has the goal of saving endangered wildlife. 

“As a natural defense against predators, okapi mothers hide their calves away in nests. The calf will spend its time in the nest leaving only to nurse,” said Chris Massaro, General Curator at ZooTampa at Lowry Park in a statement. “While guests eagerly await the calf to venture out into its habitat, we’ll post updates with pictures and videos on social media to share her progress."

The chocolate-colored animals has a face that resembles a giraffe, and zebra-like striped legs. They live in the dense part of forests, such as the Ituri Forest of Democratic Republic of Congo. ZooTampa says it’s a place where conflict and solidarity lives of okapis make it difficult for animal experts to study the species. 

The calf will likely move to a new home when it reaches the age of 2.