The population of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has recently added a new member to its ranks.
Disney announced that a rare okapi was born at the lodge on October 1st. It has been bonding with his mother, Zelda, in a backstage habitat, where the two will remain for the next several months before joining the animals roaming the savanna at the lodge. The yet-to-be-named okapi weighed in at 54 pounds at birth, and was upright and mobile within an hour after being born.
In an talk with Disney Parks Blog, Okapi care team keeper Kim Thomson explained, “We will spend a lot of time conducting observations on mom and calf making sure the calf is bonding well with mom, nursing well and basically hitting all of the milestones we would expect of a growing okapi.”
The calf’s parents, Zelda and father Mandazi, were selected to breed through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, which strives to ensure responsible breeding of threatened and endangered species. Okapis are an endangered species, found mostly in the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are estimated to be 20,000 okapi left worldwide, and their numbers are dropping due to habitat loss from mining and commercial logging as well as poaching. Disney is actively working with the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Okapi Conservation Project to try and slow the decline.
We will update you when the new okapi and his mother are on view at the resort.