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A new arrival in the lead up to World Okapi Day

October 11, 2023

An okapi calf born at Marwell Zoo in July 2023

We’re celebrating the lead up to World Okapi Day by announcing a very special new arrival who’s been settling in at Marwell Zoo behind the scenes.

On 21July our female okapi, Daphne gave birth to an endangered okapi calf. These animals are instinctively nervous and secretive so the pair have been bonding behind the scenes.

In the wild, calves do not defecate for the first 40-60 days.  It is thought that this is an act of self-preservation that reduces odours predators might use to track young animals down.

Pooing sooner can be a sign that the calf is unwell or is unlikely to survive so keepers have been keeping a close eye on the new arrival to ensure it reaches its milestones safely.

The calf has been tucked away with its mother while they bond and get used to life at Marwell but is now exploring a little more so guests might start to catch glimpses.

The exact number of okapis remaining in the wild is unknown, but it is thought that there are between 3,000 and 10,000 okapi left in the wild, but numbers are decreasing as a result of habitat loss and hunting for meat and skins.

Illegal mining for gold, coltan and diamonds also poses a substantial threat alongside illegal logging, charcoal production and agricultural encroachment.

At Marwell, our animals are part of an international breeding programme to increase numbers and ensure a genetically diverse back up population should it be needed in the future.

Zoe Newnham, Hoofstock keeper, said: “The talks are your chance to hopefully see the okapis up close and have a chat to one of the keepers.

“We’re celebrating World Okapi Day to help raise awareness of the species, their threats in the wild and how important they are to their ecosystem.”

Did you know?

  • Despite looking similar from behind, Okapi are not related to zebra.  They instead share a common ancestor with giraffes.
  • Okapi have exceptionally long tongues that measure around 30cm and can be used to lick their own eyeballs!
  • Okapi are so good at hiding and keeping quiet that they weren’t discovered until 1901 – much later than most species.
  • Okapi are particularly difficult to breed in captivity.

As part of our celebration of World Okapi Day, our keepers will be giving a series of talks and feeds in the okapi houses at 12pm each day from Wednesday 11 October through to World Okapi Day itself on Wednesday 18 October.

Originally created as a day for local towns around the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, World Okapi Day has become a time for people all around the world to learn about and help protect okapi.

The talks at Marwell will be a great opportunity for guests to meet the team and find out all about these elusive tropical forest dwellers.

You could win!

In conjunction with the talks, we’re running a guess and donate competition here.

Everyone who donates and guesses the calf’s name correctly will be entered into our World Okapi Day prize draw and will have the chance to win an okapi experience, goodies and an adoption. 

Don’t forget to watch our video on our social media channels for a clue and cute okapi calf footage.

Full prize information, terms and conditions are available here.