Louisiana’s west bank breeding facility awaits a special delivery

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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – Many individuals bear in mind April, the pregnant giraffe which went viral a number of years in the past when keepers introduced she was pregnant.

The Audubon Nature Institute might have one thing to rival the thrill, at the very least within the zoo world.

Curators introduced Asili, a four-year-old okapi at Audubon’s west financial institution breeding facility, is pregnant.

“I’m very enthusiastic about it,” mentioned Michelle Hatwood, Normal Curator on the Audubon Species Survival Middle close to the Plaquemines-Orleans Parish line. “it’s an enormous deal within the business, for zoos, and for conservation.

Asili, a four-year-old pregnant okapi at the Audubon Species Survival Center in Algiers
Asili, a four-year-old pregnant okapi on the Audubon Species Survival Middle in Algiers(John Snell | John Snell)

“It’s an animal that lots of people don’t learn about,” Hatwood mentioned. “It’s really associated to a giraffe.”

Nonetheless, the okapi seems to be extra like some cross between a horse and a zebra.

5 of them reside at Audubon’s sprawling facility close to the Orleans-Plaquemines Parish line, the place practically 500 acres are devoted to a mission to breed animals for zoo populations in North America.

A number of years in the past, Audubon joined San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance in a partnership they dubbed “The Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife,” an effort to make sure sustainable populations of distinctive and endangered zoo animals.

The 2 establishments have been working towards the purpose of breeding okapis ever since.

The assorted species, from giraffes to sitatunga, reside in massive enclosures in a 500-acre facility.

Right here, the okapi alone enclosure stretches over 22 acres, offering the animals a possibility to graze in dense forests nearer to their pure habitats than a zoo would usually present.

“It’s just like the rain forest of the south,” Hatwood mentioned. “We get numerous rain similar to they might within the wild and that is the right habitat for them.

If all goes in line with plan, curators hope Asili will ship her calf subsequent July.

Listed below are some particulars about okapi supplied by the Audubon Nature Institute:

Okapi have been first found by the Western world in 1901, however nonetheless little or no is understood about them. They reside in thick forests within the DRC, are very onerous to check, and their inhabitants is unknown.

Okapi are endangered, threats to their inhabitants and habitat embody unlawful mining, habitat loss, and civil unrest.

There are 82 okapi in 28 zoos in the USA and the Species Survival Middle has 5 (3 males and a pair of females). We plan to develop the inhabitants right here to 10 animals plus their offspring right here, making us one of many prime 3 breeding and conservation facilities for okapi within the US, together with White Oak Conservation Middle (FL) and our companions, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

AZA-accredited Zoos within the US work carefully with EAZA accredited Zoo in Europe to share data about this species as a world administration effort.

Zoos within the US and Europe preserve these species by financially supporting and dealing with the Okapi Conservation Undertaking in Africa (particularly, the Ituri Forest within the DRC).

Okapi females will normally get pregnant for the primary time at age 4 or 5. Our feminine, Asili, who has been confirmed pregnant is 4 years outdated. They’ve one offspring.

Kikari, age 12, is the bull really helpful to father offspring with Asili and Minazi. Every calf born is a celebration within the business, as they’re a difficult animal to breed and with a 14-month gestation, offspring should not widespread. Three calves have been born within the U.S. during the last 12 months.

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