Brookfield Zoo announces birth of okapi calf, Will

SHARE Brookfield Zoo announces birth of okapi calf, Will
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Will, a 1-month-old okapi calf at Brookfield Zoo, with his mom Augusta K. | Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society

Brookfield Zoo announced the birth of its latest addition Tuesday and it’s definitely not the most common of zoo animals. In fact the new okapi—or “forest giraffe”—calf looks more like a hodgepodge of horse, donkey and zebra.

The baby, named Will, was born April 21 to Augusta K., a 4-year-old first-time mom; and Hiari, according to a statement from Brookfield Zoo.

The calf is not yet on display at the zoo, but you can see him in a live video feed set up in the zoo’s “Habitat Africa! The Forest.”

“When they’re in this nesting period, they don’t have much of a personality,” said Amy Roberts, the zoo’s curator of mammals.

“As they become adults, they have distinct personalities and they will come out as you walk by. They like to have the keepers clean their ears,” Roberts said.

At birth, Will weighed 57 pounds, but just a month later has already reached 168 pounds, Roberts said. His mom weighs about 720 pounds.

“He is thus far 100 percent normal,” Roberts said. “He is meeting all the milestones we have set our for an okapi.”

Okapis, native to the Congo, have creamy white stripes on their hind end and front upper legs, and white “ankle stockings” on their lower legs, according to the statement. They are listed as endangered due to forest loss.

During the first few months of life, Will will spend the majority of his time in an indoor nesting area. Once he is more active, at about three months, he should begin exploring his habitat and go on display.

“Our hope is come this summer, everyone will be able to see him in the exhibit,” Roberts said.

Brookfield Zoo was the first U.S. zoo to breed okapi and has had 27 successful births since 1959. The zoo has a total of four males and two females, including Will and his mother. The species was not discovered until the early 1990s.

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Will, a 1-month-old okapi calf at Brookfield Zoo, with his mom Augusta K. | Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society

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An okapi calf was born at Brookfield Zoo on April 21. |Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society

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Will, an okapi calf born at Brookfield Zoo on April 21 is the 27th successful okapi born at the zoo. |Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society

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