They call it Okapi love
Tuesday 18 July 2006
Our keepers at ZSL London Zoo played cupid last week as they prepared for a first date in the Okapi enclosure.
A romantic ‘hearty’ meal was prepared – foliage shaped like a heart, in preparation for the introduction of a new male okapi to our female, Elila.
Elila already features as part of ZSL London Zoo’s new Into Africa exhibit and this month Dicky arrived from Chester Zoo as part of a European breeding programme.
Until now the pair have been getting used to each other from separate, neighbouring enclosures, but keepers are hoping that their first proper date leads to the clatter of tiny hooves.
Okapi, also known as forest giraffes, are elusive forest-dwellers that were only officially discovered by ZSL in 1901.
They have short velvety coats, elongated necks and a long, blue, tongue like their closest relatives, giraffes.
Only found in the forests of central Africa, okapi are threatened in the wild by habitat loss and the commercial bushmeat trade, which sees them routinely hunted for their meat.