Kimosi our young female okapi will be leaving Wild Place Project in the middle of next week to be paired with a male okapi at Zoo du Bassin d’Arcachon in France.
Kimosi was born to Lodja and Rubani 16 months ago and lives alongside her parents and two other okapi in the Secret Congo exhibit – Ruby and Kibbibi.
There are only 17 okapis in the UK and we have been recommended to continue our successful breeding programme for the species, which is classed as Endangered.
There were just 13 births in Europe over the past two years and two of these were at Wild Place Project.
Animal manager Will Walker said: “Kimosi’s transfer is an important part of the breeding programme for this Endangered species. We have worked closely with her since the day she was born and naturally we will miss her very much, but we hope to welcome more okapi calves here in future.”
Okapi are the only living relative of the giraffe. 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 more than 40 calves have been born at both sites over the years.