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Wildlife Wednesdays: Rare Okapi Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Matt Hohne

by , Animal Operations Director, Disney’s Animal Programs

The Female Calf Bonding with Her Mom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge guests may get a glimpse of a rare and unusual baby animal in a month or so when our new okapi calf goes out on the resort’s Pembe savanna. The female calf, born Oct. 1, is backstage bonding with her mom in this great photo taken by Gene Duncan. Our animal care managers report that mom and baby are doing very well.

The Pembe savanna in Kidani Village presents an exceptional opportunity for guests to see okapi in a large, mixed-species savanna habitat right outside the guests’ hotel rooms throughout the day and into the evening.

The okapi is considered rare and is classified as near threatened. The main threat is habitat loss due to logging and human settlement as well as hunting for the bush meat and skin trade.

Okapi fun facts:

  • There are fewer than one hundred okapi in North American zoological facilities.
  • The okapi with its white and black striped legs is often thought to be related to the zebra but actually is the only living relative of the giraffe. The stripes work as camouflage when hiding in the partial sunlight that filters through the forest canopy.
  • Okapi are typically solitary animals, living alone or in mother-offspring pairs. They are extremely wary and secretive, making okapi very difficult to observe in the lowland rainforest of central Africa where they make their home.
  • The okapi’s gestation period is about 14 months, with the calf typically weighing between 50 and 60 pounds at birth.
  • Adult okapi can reach weights of 550-720 pounds with females typically being larger than males. They can live over 30 years in zoological facilities.
  • Normally silent, female okapi vocalize with a soft “chuff” during courtship and when calling to their calves. There are infrasonic qualities to their call, which are below the frequency that the human ear can pick up.


  • Our last visit to AK my two year old saw her and said “Mama, Zebra”, then the cast member said “they are actually closer to the giraffe” so she looks at me and said “giraffe-zebra butt?”. Congrats to the Animal Kingdom family :)!

  • My son and I are very excited to see the new baby okapi. We are visiting after thanksgiving and will making it a point to see the new addition. congrats!!!


  • We are coming to Disney during Thanksgiving and can’t wait to see this new addition! She is so cute!

  • She is a cutie pie!

    • Very cute.

  • Absolutely adorable!

  • Oh wow! My sister and I saw the pregnant mother on September 29 as part of Wanyama Safari, and then we did the Lunch With An Animal Specialist with Steve and Tommy on October 1st. They said they wouldn’t be surprised if they got paged during the lunch that the mother was giving birth. I guess they weren’t kidding! Great to see the mother and baby doing well.

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