SOURCE: Denver Zoo

Denver Zoo

June 05, 2015 13:15 ET

Denver Zoo Welcomes New Two-Year-Old Okapi

Female, Almasi, Can Now Be Seen in Yard Near Toyota Elephant Passage

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - June 05, 2015) - Denver Zoo is excited to welcome a new, female okapi (oh-KAW-pee) to its herd. Two-year-old Almasi (all-MAH-see) arrived from the Dallas Zoo in late April and has just cleared her mandatory, month-long quarantine. Visitors can see her now exploring her new yard, located just outside of Toyota Elephant Passage, weather permitting.

Almasi was born in 2013 at Dallas Zoo, and came to Denver Zoo through recommendations of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Almasi will pair with male, Molimo, for future breeding once she turns three. Keepers say the tall, young okapi is settling in well and describe her as quiet, but with signs of playfulness. She joins the Zoo’s other four okapis, Jabari, Sekele, Kalispell and Molimo.

Okapis look like a cross between zebras and giraffes. In fact, the species is the only living relative to the giraffe. In addition to long necks, okapis have reddish bodies, black-and-white striped legs and 12-inch, purple, prehensile tongues. Adult okapis weigh between 500 and 700 pounds and stand approximately five feet tall at the shoulder. Females are generally larger than males. The okapi’s gestation period is between 14 and 15 months.

Native only to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), survival of the okapi is seriously threatened by unsettled political conditions and rebel military actions in that part of the DRC. Wild population estimates for the species are extremely difficult to determine because the forest is so dense, but experts believe there are between 10,000 and 50,000 individuals. Their numbers are believed to be declining, though, and okapis are classified as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Additional threats come from habitat loss and hunting.

This rare species was only first discovered about 100 years ago. Very little is known about the behavior of the okapi in the wild due to its shy, elusive nature. Much of what is known has been learned in zoos in the past 45 years.

About Denver Zoo: Denver Zoo brings education alive, providing a unique learning experience that sparks an interest in the natural world for visitors and program participants alike. Home to 4,300 animals representing more than 600 species, the Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which assures the highest standards of animal care.

A leader in green action, Denver Zoo is the greenest zoo in the country and is dedicated to ensuring the safety of the environment in support of all species by attaining the highest environmental standards. Since 1996, Denver Zoo has participated in about 600 animal conservation projects in 62 countries on all seven continents.

Image Available:

Embedded Video Available:

Contact Information

  • Contact:

    Sean Andersen-Vie
    (720) 337-1418

    Scott Camp
    (720) 337-1604