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Zoo celebrates birth of Okapi calf Dikembe
A rare Okapi calf has been born at Marwell Zoo.
The forest-living relative of the giraffe was born to mum, Dumela and dad, Shomari and is an important addition to the European Endangered species breeding Programme (EEP).
Marwell’s new arrival is male and has been named Dikembe.
The name originates from the Democratic Republic of the Congo which is the only place Okapis are found in the wild.
Dikembe is three days old and is just starting to find his feet.
Ian Goodwin, collection manager of hoofstock at Marwell Zoo said: “Our last Okapi birth was in 2008 so this arrival is a fantastic addition to Marwell and an important part of the EEP.
“This is Dumela’s first calf and she is doing very well. Dikembe will spend some time nesting while he builds strength and grows.
“Okapis are fascinating animals and are the only living relative to the giraffe.
"As well as a long neck, Okapis have reddish bodies with black and white striped legs and a 12 inch tongue which helps them to strip leaves and buds from trees.
"The tongue is also long enough for them to clean its eyelids and ears.”
Okapi mothers use infrasonic communication - sound that is below the range of human hearing and also used by elephants - to communicate with their calves.
The okapi is listed as ‘Near Threatened’ in the wild by IUCN Red List . The main threat is loss of its habitat to agriculture, encroaching human settlements, and deforestation. The species was also formerly found in Uganda, but is now believed to be extinct there.
Okapis were only discovered about 100 years ago.
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