UK Zoo Welcomes Endangered Okapi Calf To The World In Rare Birth Event

Mason Joseph Zimmer
Kora the okapi calf at Chester Zoo, England
twitter | @chesterzoo

Whenever a zoo sees one of its animals give birth, it's a special and often stressful event as the staff have to ensure the little one has the best possible chance at thriving in a whole new world.

But while that's true in normal circumstances, both the excitement and the caution doubles when that new arrival is a member of an endangered species or has a rare and striking genetic condition.

Yet when all goes well, that special new creature becomes not only a beautiful sight, but a ray of hope for animals like it.

And one British zoo is happy to report that this seems to describe one rare calf's situation well.

On November 11, an okapi named Ada gave birth to a rare calf named Kora at England's Chester Zoo.

Kora the okapi calf and mother Ada at Chester Zoo, England
twitter | @chesterzoo

According to People, this was a big event for the zoo partially because okapis are endangered and the sole remaining relative of the giraffe left in the world, but also because only 14 of them exist in all of the United Kingdom.

They're native to the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo and that has a lot to do with how the new calf got its name.

The calf's name is Kora in a reference to the village of Akokora, which is nestled within the African nation's Okapi Wildlife Reserve.

Kora the okapi calf at Chester Zoo, England
twitter | @chesterzoo

And now, enough time has passed since Kora's birth that the zoo's staff feels comfortable announcing her presence to the world.

This is largely because she is starting to explore her surroundings after a long period of refusing to leave Ada's side.

As zookeeper Rosie Owen said in a video released by the Chester Zoo, "She's very inquisitive, her confidence is growing every day. She's even quite cheeky sometimes so Ada always has to keep an eye on her."

But Kora likely wouldn't have gotten anywhere near as far as she has if she and her mother didn't form such an encouraging bond.

Kora the okapi calf at Chester Zoo, England
twitter | @chesterzoo

In Owen's words, "This is the first calf to be born to mum Ada as part of an endangered species breeding program, and she's doing a wonderful job of caring for her new baby. She regularly feeds her, cleans her, and even gives her gentle nudges of encouragement. It's a real joy to watch."

With the announcement of Kora's birth, the zoo's staff are hoping to encourage further efforts to protect the world's okapi population.

As the zoo's plant and animal director Mike Jordan said, "The okapi is one of the animal kingdom's most mysterious creatures, and it has sadly undergone a huge decline over the last few decades, with numbers of reported sightings becoming less common."

If you want to see Kora in action, her mannerisms are on full display in the video available here.

h/t: People

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