Rare okapi born at Disney's Animal Kingdom

In honor of World Okapi Day, Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Friday announced the birth of an okapi at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. (David Roark, photographer)

Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday announced the birth of an okapi at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge earlier this month. The calf was born Oct. 1,  and weighed 54 pounds.  

The calf is being kept in a backstage habitat for the next several months before joining the animals on the savanna at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. During that time, keepers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge will observe the okapi, ensuring he bonds with his mother, nurses properly and attains all significant maturation milestones.  

Okapis are an endangered species found in rain forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Known as the “ghosts of the forest,” okapis are reclusive and rarely encountered in the wild. The species was not discovered until 1901. 

There are an estimated 20,000 okapi in the world, and their population continues to decline due to poaching and habitat loss.

The exciting birth occurs after an okapi calf passed away at a Tampa zoo. ZooTampa at Lowry Park announced the birth of the rare okapi nearly two months ago. This month, it passed away from a condition similar to diabetes, the park said.

Information provided by Walt Disney World Resort.