A baby okapi was born two weeks ago at Antwerp zoo, a birth the zoo is calling crucial because the species is endangered. Some rare animals can still be found in the wild in the rainy Ituri region of DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) but okapi populations there have halved in the past few decades. The healthy newborn okapi was named Qira and was born after a fourteen-month gestation period.
Qira was born of parents Yenthe and Bondo. She weighed 24 kilos at birth and measured 85 centimetres. The birth is genetically crucial, as Antwerp zoo coordinates a European and international breeding programme for okapis in captivity. The zoo also works in Africa to protect wild populations. It is present in the village of Epulu, in the Ituri forest (DRC), where approximately 10,000 okapis live.
The zoo will determine which male Qira can breed with in conjunction with partner animal parks once she reaches adulthood. In the meantime, she will stay with her parents in Antwerp and will not be on public show this winter. A greenhouse will be built next year so people can see okapis all year long.