Endangered, 2-year-old okapi arrives at the OKC Zoo as part of Species Survival Plan for okapi

               The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden recently welcomed two-year-old male okapi, Bosomi (bo-som-ee), from Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, as part of a breeding recommendation for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Okapi Species Survival Plan. Bosomi was matched with the OKC Zoo’s female okapi, Kayin, 5.

Home to okapi since 1973, the Zoo is thrilled to re-launch its okapi breeding program with the addition of Bosomi to its animal family. According to his caretakers, Bosomi is settling in well. He enjoys ear rubs and has already begun sampling the various forms of vegetation found throughout his new habitat. Shortly after arriving at the Zoo, Bosomi was introduced to Kayin. The pair immediately began demonstrating positive behaviors throughout the introduction process, such as chuffing at and smelling one another. Bosomi is noticeably smaller than Kayin and will not reach adult size until approximately 3 years of age. Guests can also tell Bosomi apart from Kayin by his lighter coloring and the hair-covered horns, located at the top of his head, called ossicones.

“We are delighted to welcome Bosomi and renew our commitment to okapi conservation through a successful breeding program,” said Curator of Hoofstock, Tracey Dolphin. “The last okapi calf born at the OKC Zoo was Kayin back in 2015, so we are hopeful that we’ll be welcoming another okapi calf in the near future.”

                The okapi is the only living relative of the giraffe and is native to the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the wild, okapi are known for being elusive. Okapi are a reclusive species, known in the wild as “ghosts of the forest”.

Classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, okapi populations in the wild – estimated between 10,000 and 50,000 – are currently decreasing primarily because of habitat loss resulting from logging and human settlement. The presence of illegal armed groups around protected areas and poaching are also major threats.

Guests can help conserve okapi by donating their used electronic devices at the OKC Zoo. Small electronics frequently contain coltan and mining for this substance threatens the habitats of okapi and other endangered species. When individuals donate used phones or other electronics, the coltan from those devices is re-used and reduces the need to mine for the compound in okapi habitats. While visiting the Zoo, guests can also choose to Round Up for Conservation, when purchasing items from gift shops or restaurants, located throughout the Zoo. Funds from Round Up for Conservation has been donated to the Okapi Conservation Project to help support the organization’s conservation efforts in Africa.

                Come and okap(see) the OKC Zoo’s newest resident, Bosomi! The Oklahoma City Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Advance tickets are required for all guests and ZOOfriends members and can be purchased at http://www.okczoo.org/tickets. Zoo tickets are limited each day to ensure safe social distancing among guests. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay up-to-date with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and by visiting Our Stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a member. Memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org or any place admission is sold in the Zoo’s Entry Plaza during regular business hours. To learn more about this event and Zoo other happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.