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28 / 11 / 2016
Help name our baby okapi
Keepers at Wild Place Project are inviting the public to help to choose a name for a new baby okapi.
 
The calf, a little girl, was born to parents Lodja and Rubani two weeks ago (Monday 14 November).
 
She is now one of only 15 okapis in the UK and her birth is a huge success for the species breeding programme. There have only been six births in Europe this year and two of these were at Wild Place Project.
 
The baby is now in need of a name and the public can choose their favourite from a choice of three: Kimosi, which means Monday in Congolese, Bili, which means forest and Yiniti, which means tree.
 
Will Walker, animal manager at Wild Place Project said: “The little calf is doing well and looks just like her mum. Her ears have not yet straightened out yet and are still flopped over.
 
“She has just started the nesting phase, which was a bit late but nothing to worry about. This is the period of time where the calf is left hidden away by herself while her mother goes off to feed.”
 
He added: “Now it’s time for the youngster to have her own name and we’d love it if the public could help us choose the best name to suit her.”
 
Look out for our naming competition from Monday 28th November over on our Facebook page. Vote for your favourite name (Kimosi, Bili or Yiniti).
 
The young calf is currently off show and will remain in her stable until she can regulate her body temperature and when the weather becomes warmer. Her mother Lodja can often be seen browsing in her paddock.
 
Okapi are the only living relative of the giraffe. The species was first encountered by Europeans in 1900 and described by scientists in 1901.
 
They are native only to the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa where they are threatened by expansion of human settlement and forest degradation. A major current threat is also the presence of illegal armed groups in and around the key protected areas for the species.
 
In the 1960s Bristol Zoological Society, which owns and runs Wild Place Project and Bristol Zoo Gardens, was a founder member of the first ever modern breeding programme for okapi in a European Zoo. The Zoo received a male and a female from Antwerp Zoo, in Belgium, who went on to successfully breed at Bristol Zoo Gardens. 
 
The success of the breeding programme was applied to other species by zoos across Europe and was used as an example to help safeguard the future of threatened and endangered animals in human care.
 
Okapi were moved from Bristol Zoo Gardens to Wild Place Project when it opened in 2013 and a total of 40 calves have been born at both sites.