These unique animals, relatives of giraffes, have been called the “African unicorn,” because they’re so elusive. But did you know the Dallas Zoo is world-renowned for our breeding program to keep this endangered species from disappearing from Earth?
Okapi first came to the zoo in 1960, and our first calf arrived in 1963. Since then, we’ve welcomed a total of 36 calves. What’s even cooler is that we’ve maintained a continuous maternal line over the past 55 years. (That represents sustained success in the areas of husbandry, breeding, calf management, and veterinary care.) It’s a rare achievement for any zoo, with any species. That line started with the original matriarch, Vivianne.
We’ve even sent okapi overseas to zoological parks in Europe, to ensure that genetic lines stay pure and healthy. The expertise and collaboration between zoos in the U.S., Europe, and Japan have made great progress in saving the okapi since it was first identified/ discovered in 1901.
Many of our calves have been born in August, including our youngest, Almasi, who turned 1 just the other day. So to close out the month, we’re celebrating this very special maternal line with some of their baby pictures. Here’s how it goes: Vivianne-Liana-Kamili-Desi-Almasi.
Find out more about these remarkable animals in the Wilds of Africa, and catch an okapi keeper talk at 1:30 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday.
Read more about our okapi program in this Dallas Morning News story.