London Zoo Welcomes Baby Okapi And Celebrates Her 'First Wobbly Steps'

London Zoo is celebrating the birth of a rare, endangered okapi calf — and she's already taken her first steps!

According to a press release from the Zoological Society of London revealed the sweet girl, who's been named Ede, was born on September 21 after her mom, Oni, went into labor the night before.

Zookeepers kept a "watchful" eye on the mamma okapi through CCTV once they realized her baby was on the way.

The press release explained that the labor lasted for 12 hours, and everyone watching began "rejoicing when tiny hooves and stripy legs began to emerge."

“Like all okapis, Oni had a long pregnancy — close to 16 months — so we’ve been excitedly waiting for Ede for a long time," ZSL okapi keeper Gemma Metcalf said.

Just minutes after she was welcomed into the world, little Ede took her "first wobbly steps".

This little okpai has already proven herself to be an absolute pro, as the release added those unsteady steps only lasted for a moment before she began "tottering around confidently".

Metcalf confirmed that Oni is already a "brilliant mum" to her new calf.

The zookeeper added that Oni's pregnancy during the pandemic and its subsequent lockdown posed some "logistical challenges" for staff.

"[But] despite the Zoo being closed we remained by her side to make sure she had the highest standard of care throughout her third trimester," Metcalf continued. "We’re delighted that both mother and baby are now doing so well."

"Ede is already a feisty young calf and has been bouncing happily around the stables, but Oni is keeping her in their cozy indoor dens until she feels Ede is ready to explore their lush outdoor paddocks," she continued. "We can’t wait for our visitors to see the newest addition to the zoo family."

Known as the "forest giraffe" and resembling a cross between a zebra and a giraffe, okapis are actually the giraffe's only living relative.

Unsplash | Brian McGowan

According to National Geographic, these unique creatures are native to the Ituri Rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is the only place they can be found in the wild.

Unfortunately, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species currently lists okapis as being endangered, largely due to poachers who hunt the animals for their meat and skin.

h/t: ZSL, National Geographic

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