A newborn okapi calf at the LA Zoo marks the first time that the shy, secretive creature has been born in the Southland, the zoo announced this week.
The male calf was born on Aug. 26 and has spent the last two months “behind the scenes bonding with his mother and familiarizing himself with his new home,” the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens said in a news release Tuesday.
Weather permitting, guests at the zoo can now view the calf in his habitat from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
“This long-awaited birth is particularly special because it’s the first okapi we’ve ever had born here at the Zoo,” said LA Zoo Director John Lewis.
Because of the black and white striped patterns on the okapi’s front and hind legs, they are often mistaken for zebras.
But they are actually the giraffe’s closest living relative.
Known as the “forest giraffe,” the okapi has a velvety coat and a 14- to 18-inch tongue, according to the LA Zoo.
An adult okapi can grow up to 6 feet tall and weighs between 400 and 700 pounds.
The LA Zoo received its first okapi in 2005 after a 20-year search.
However, it was not until 2010 that the Zoo was able to realize its long-term goal of having a pair of okapis for breeding.
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