When you go to the zoo, what is the animal that you love to visit the most? Lion, alligator, flamingo, what about an Okapi? I bet you’ve never heard of that one before!
When you go to the zoo, what is the animal that you love to visit the most? Lion, alligator, flamingo, what about an Okapi? I bet you’ve never heard of that one before! I hadn’t either until I met Sharon Areen one of the zookeepers at the Denver Zoo. Currently, the Denver Zoo is home to 3 Okapis (oh-Kah-pee).
The male calf, named Jabari (Jah-bar-ee), was born to mother, Kalispell (Kal-lis-pell), and father, Sekele (seh-Kee-lee), on February 3, and is only the sixth birth of his species at the zoo. The baby okapis are born one at a time (like humans), the gestation is 14 months, and a new born doubles its weight in just three weeks!
Okapis are very rare, in fact they were only discovered about 100 years ago. They hide in the rainforests so researchers haven’t found out a whole lot about them. During the interview, they were sweet and liked attention. Their fur looked like red velvet and was very soft! They look like a cross between a horse and a zebra, but they are actually their own species and their closest relative is the cousin giraffe. The male okapi has horns similar to the giraffe. Their tongues are almost just as long too! Their tongues are 13 inches long as demonstrated in the interview. The mom Kalispell really enjoyed gives lots of wet kisses like a donkey does. They were all very friendly and like treats and being petted.
Sharon Areen has a personal relationship with each okapi. She says the job is very physical but she loves it! If this article somehow inspired you to want to work with these animals, then Sharon said to “VOLUNTEER, VOLUNTEER, VOLUNTEER.” The zoo could really use your help! Visit www.denverzoo.org.