On 10 July 2022, an okapi, or forest giraffe, was born at Basel Zoo. The new arrival is only the fifth calf to be born at the zoo over more than 20 years.
The newly born calf named “Toka” is the son of mother Ebony (10) and father Imba (15). Described as strong and curious, he immediately stood up after birth and began looking for milk. 11 days on, he is in excellent health and drinks regularly, reported the zoo.
In their natural habitat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, forest giraffes are under severe threat due to civil war and starvation. Their population is estimated to be as low as 10,000.
Young okapi sleep away from their mothers, often hidden, for the first few weeks after birth and only get up when roused by their mothers. In the wild, this reduces the chance of young calves being found and attacked by predators. But it also means zoo visitors will have to be patient in the first few weeks while the new calf sleeps and spends much of his time lying hidden in straw, said the zoo.
Basel Zoo has supported the “Okapi Conservation Project” for sustainable nature and species conservation for more than 30 years. The project includes a 13,700 km2 okapi reserve and breeding station in the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Basel Zoo has supported the project since it was founded in 1987. In June 2012, when the breeding station was attacked and vandalised, resulting in the deaths of six people and all the okapis, Basel Zoo provided emergency aid and doubled its annual contribution to rebuild the breeding station.
Basel Zoo press release (in German)