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newborn okapi Kisala discovers enclosure
Animal news
September 2, 2019

Rare okapi born

An okapi was born on 2 September 2019 at 11.49 am. It is a female. Mother Kamina and daughter are doing well. The young has no name yet. This is the third okapi birth in the new Congo region.

Pregnancy in okapis lasts 15 months. Mother, Kamina, was also born in Rotterdam Zoo. Okapis remain uncommon in zoos. Rotterdam has had a long history with the species, the first ones arrived in 1957. At that time little was known about this mysterious animal that was only discovered by Europeans in the previous century.

From the start, Rotterdam was successful in breeding okapis. The endangered okapi belongs to the giraffe family and is sometimes called the Forest giraffe. This shy species is only found in the impenetrable rain forest of the Congo where it is threatened by poaching and deforestation. They have a beautiful soft brown coat with a unique white stripe pattern on their rump. Rotterdam Zoo helps wild okapis be supporting the work of the Okapi Conservation Project in the Congo.

Update November 11th: Okapietje Kisala has pooped! 💩 That doesn’t seem very special, but it is! Young okapis only poop after about 60 days. Kisala waited until day 62. During the first period after birth, okapis spend a lot of time on the nest. They do not poop because in the wild they can be traced faster by predators. The large “chestnut-like” keys served as a kind of stop. Now Kisala will leave the nest more often and be seen in the indoor enclosure.

Update October 18th: Kisala is doing well! She is very curious and occasionally leaves her safe “nest” to inspect the enclosure. The caretakers have made this area ‘baby-proof’ with green ribbons. Kisala still drinks breast milk, but also occasionally eats a leaf with mother Kamina. Kisala occasionally visits the inner garden (watch video at bottom of this page). If she’s not here, you can admire her through the webcams in the maternity behind the scenes.

Update October 5th: Okapi Kisala is 1 month old and is still in her nesting period. Zoo keeper Kim made this drinking video (video at bottom of this page). Bumping Kisala against the udder starts the so-called milk gift. Mother Kamina often goes inside during the day while the little one stays in the stable. Soon the animal keepers will also leave the stable for the small okapi open and then she can follow mother Kamina to the inner garden.

Update September 10th: The newborn okapi is called … Kisala. The zookeepers named her after her grandfather Kiburi and grandmother Lisala. The young regularly hops through the stable, as you can see on the webcams.

webcams maternity stable



Birth September 2nd

October 5th:  Kisala drinking breast milk

October 18th: Kisala inspects the enclosure