The okapi Subira with her calf
The okapi Subira with her calf at the San Diego Zoo. Courtesy of the zoo

The San Diego Zoo announced Tuesday the second birth of a rare okapi calf in its program to bring the endangered relative of the giraffe back from the brink of extinction.

The okapi is a large animal that lives in the Ituri Forest, a dense rain forest in central Africa, located in the northeast region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Scientists did not discover the animal’s existence until 1900.

“To see any animal take its first breath is an amazing experience,” said Jennifer Chapman, senior keeper at the zoo. “We waited 14 months for this calf to arrive, so to finally be able to see him, know he is healthy and witness mom do an incredible job, we can’t help but feel a sense of relief and pride.”

Only a few zoos in the United States house this rare species, and the new male calf is the second surviving calf born at the zoo in less than 2 years.

Zoo staff members said they were mesmerized as they watched the calf mother, Subira, give birth, and they were equally awed when her young calf slowly stood up and began to move around on wobbly legs

Okapis first came to the San Diego Zoo in 1956, and since then, there have been more than 60 births at both the zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.